Sustainability has three dimensions, but these days you could be forgiven for thinking it's a one-legged stool as the focus is almost exclusively on environmental issues, with the social and economic dimensions often getting less airtime.
Research at OISD led by Professor Tim Dixon, Director of OISD and Professor of Real Estate has recently been re-dressing the balance and this has led to the publication of a book on Urban Regeneration and Social Sustainability, and also further research and consultancy with key property players to help develop a much clearer way of assessing and measuring social sustainability.
As a result of leading this work and OISD's expertise, Tim Dixon was recently commissioned by Berkeley Group to write a paper which encapsulates current thinking on the subject, and was also invited to give a keynote speech at the launch of Berkeley's 2011 Sustainability report at the King's Fund in London on 23 September. The event, attended by more than 100, brought together a range of sustainability and property experts together with other speakers including Charmaine Young CBE (St George PLC); Rob Perrins (Berkeley Group), Clyde Loades (LB of Waltham Forest/Deputy Chair of LGA Environment and Housing Board) and Alex Lifschutz (Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands).
In his keynote Tim Dixon explained what is meant by social sustainability (and how it is linked to concepts such as social capital and social cohesion); why the debate matters during a period when 'localism' is dominating political debate; and what is inhibiting its growth and its measurement. The keynote and the accompanying paper both review best practice in post-occupancy social sustainability metric systems, based on recent research undertaken by OISD on Dockside Green in Vancouver, and they identify the key operational issues in mainstreaming the concept within major mixed use projects.
Tim Dixon concluded by offering a framework for the key challenges faced in setting strategic corporate goals and objectives; prioritising and selecting the most appropriate investments; and measuring social sustainability performance by identifying the required data sources. Matt Bell, Head of Corporate External Affairs, at Berkeley Group, commented:
"I think that as an industry we may have lost sight of the social dimensions of sustainability, when they should be at the heart of all housing and mixed used development. That's why we've brought together 100 of the leading designers, developers and policy makers to start a debate and develop a shared understanding of how you measure and how you deliver social sustainability."
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