Sample Environmental Studies Paper: Reducing the environmental impact of new construction in Cyprus

| November 23, 2018

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Title: Reducing the environmental impact of new construction in Cyprus

 

Introduction

Sustainable development has been considered as one of the most profoundly intellectual and political agendas that the human society faces today. Although the issue of the long-run ecological sustainability of human society has deep and diverse historical roots, it was clearly articulated and stated as an international and national policy agenda only by the late 1980’s.

 

In Cyprus a lot of emphasis has been given on sustainable development, especially since the entry in the European Union in 2004. The basic goal of the government has been to introduce the environmental dimension into all parameters of the social and economic policies. However, very little has been done towards this direction in any construction activity on the island. Cyprus is currently at an infancy stage regarding sustainable construction practices and it seems to be progressing at an extremely slow pace. The main reason for, it appears is the lack of experience in the relevant fields as well as on the perceived lack of evident proof regarding the financial and environmental efficiencies of these practices.

 

The aim of this paper is to offer the reader an understanding of the significance of “low-environmental-impact construction” as part of the entire sustainable development concept. In the face of global warming effects in our everyday life, decisions made regarding sustainable techniques and methods used in the construction industry can be said to have a basic impact on future generations both in economic as well as social aspects of life. The general concept of “Sustainable Construction” is highly inspiring if one focuses on the solutions nature has to offer to modern construction. The underlying objective for this paper is to reconstruct a clear picture of the environmental impacts that currently exist in Cyprus and how these can be reduced. In order to assess this, the issue of sustainability will be the main point of discussion.

 

            The main content of this paper will be the issues of sustainable construction, environmental impacts of new constructions, energy and use efficiency, and the effective use of “green materials”. Other areas of specific importance will include the use of recycled materials, construction techniques, and managerial approaches that claim the use of sustainable construction in the past in relation to present and future. A highlight is made on the distinction between sustainable constructions in England in relation to sustainable constructions in Cyprus. The paper highlights the ways in which these countries differ and the reasons underlying these differences. In this comparison, the example of Brickwork is offered. An assessment is made on how brickwork is used in the UK and the reasons why it can or it cannot work in Cyprus. All the above subtopics constitute the main discussion points throughout this project. However, a deeper investigation is carried on the use of sustainable-green materials and energy consumption, whereas the other points are secondary.

 

Energy consumption in Cyprus

Cyprus is a small island nation located in the North-Eastern Mediterranean region. The country has no any conventional sources apart from the interconnected networks of oil-based products and electricity. Yet in 2006, Cyprus won the highly prestigious World Renewable Energy Congress Trophy in recognition of its outstanding initiatives towards increased integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) into the country’s energy mix.

Cyprus almost entirely depends on imported energy. The oil policy of this country is a key factor in the achievement of sustainable development. The key challenge has been on ensuring that the goal of economic development is achieved in such a way that efficiency in supply of safe energy is compatible with the underlying aim of a clean environment. Cyprus’s energy policy is hinged upon three main targets: (a) securing energy supply within satisfactory economic conditions, (b) conservation of energy and the development of renewable sources of energy, and (c) mitigation of the impacts of energy consumption on the environment (Panayiotou 2010, p. 2085). For these targets to be realized, a series of measures have already been taken while others are in the process of being undertaken.

One of the solutions to the problem of sustainability in the energy sector is the use of solar energy. Solar energy is being relied upon in efforts to enable the country to achieve its goal of reliance on ‘green energy’, which is not only sustainable, but also environmentally friendly. Today, photovoltaic cells continue to power many telecommunication transmitters and receivers in remote regions within Cyprus.

Cyprus prides itself in being within the Sun Belt, meaning that the use of solar power is a viable option in the country. Indeed, the country has been taking advantage of this environmental condition to install solar water heating systems for up to 90% of the housing market. In a geographical area inhabited by 750,000 people, this is an impressive level of performance as far as environmental sustainability is concerned. In fact, it is for this reason that this island nation received the 2007 International Award for the Highest Solar Panel usage per person.

In recent times, the Cyprus government has been putting in place financial incentives, especially within the domestic sector, aimed at stimulating investment in renewable energy sources. The two main areas of focus include solar energy home-heating and cooling purposes and production of electricity using solar and wind energy, also known as photovoltaic technology. Some focus is also being directed towards the use of biomass. Biomass is biodegradable waste, produce, and residues generated in agriculture, industrial, forestry, and municipal waste. However, for the most part, only commercial entities appear to be focusing on harnessing this type of energy.

In Cyprus, efforts towards encouraging increased reliance on renewable energy started gathering pace as early as 1985 when the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Action Plan was formulated (Oktay 2010, p. 52). Three years later, the action plan was revised. The action plan encompassed the very first energy support scheme for all sectors within the manufacturing industry, agriculture, and hotels. The establishment of the Cyprus Institute of Energy and the Applied Energy Center were also significant milestones. The government also oversaw the setting up of procedures for licensing and interconnecting wing and photovoltaic installations into the national grid.

The Cyprus Institute of Energy has been extensively involved in the enforcement of policy directives set up by the governments as well as those emanating from the country’s membership in the EU. In most cases, these directives have been focusing on ways of ensuring that more focus is put on the use of renewable energy. The government is also involved in an ambitious project of providing grants and subsidies for all investments by households, companies, and public sector bodies, which promote energy conservation and the use of renewable energy systems, such as solar, thermal, wind, photovoltaic, biomass, small hydro, and desalination.

In the process of attaining sustainability through the use of renewable sources, Cyprus has faces various difficulties and possible solutions have been proposed as a way of bringing about efficient reforms. Cyprus remains one of the few EU countries that recognize the reality of climate change and the problems that come with these changes. However, only a few of these countries recognize the need for huge investments in the energy sector, and this has necessitated priorities to be spearheaded by private-sector participants. Nevertheless, in Cyprus, there is feedback that manifests promising rewards, and this turn of events is encouraging many people to come up and apply for funding.

 

A key challenge for Cyprus has been deficiencies with regard to environmental infrastructure, especially on issues of treatment of urban waste water treatment as well as the management of solid and hazardous waste. Moreover, the natural environment, particularly within the coastal areas, continues to be degraded, mainly as a result of tourism development. There is also the problem of an increase in emission of green house gases as a result of the high intensity with which non-renewable energy is being used to fuel the economy. In this regard, indicators point to higher emission levels compared to the average in the EU. This situation is contributed to by the technology that is used to generate electricity, the use of energy-intensive industries such as the production of cement, and lack of a proper public transport system, such as a railway line system. This latter factor is exacerbated by the fact that the country’s bus transport system is not yet well developed. It should be borne in mind that energy consumption continues to increase steadily, yet the transport sector accounts for a large chunk of the total energy consumption.

 

The most positive aspect of the Cyprus story regarding the use of renewable energy is that 4% of the country’s energy needs are met using solar energy. This energy is used mainly to heat water. Additionally, 1% of the energy is supplied using solids, and it is used mainly in industry. As part of the success story, about 90% of all the country’s privately owned houses, 50% of hotels, and 80% of apartments have solar water heating systems installed in them.

 

Recycled materials /Waste sustainable or green materials

            Currently, any activities targeting sustainable, ecological design have focused on the use of some recycled materials and the use of some green materials, that is, materials of low energy use and low carbon emission during their making. For example, cement companies are now more sensitive to the production of cement in “greener” ways. It is also worthwhile to note that one of the few buildings to have recently been built with utmost focus being on the principles of sustainable construction is the Electricity Authority of Cyprus.

Green cement industry

In the cement industry in Cyprus, there is a lot of focus on ‘green technology’ with of ensuring environmental sustainability. For instance, there is use of sewage sludge as a viable alternative fuel for use in cement kilns. Trials on this project have already been embarked in the Vassiliko Cement Plant. In this plant, focus is on how to treat and then use wet sewage sludge, whose moisture content ranges between 65 and 75% as an alternative source of fuel in cement kilns.

In the Vassiliko Cement Plant, a key area of emphasis has been the concentration of heavy metals, key among them mercury. In this plant, some 22 000 cubic meters of wet sludge was treated between 2003 and 2004. In this new technology, sewage sludge was mixed with pet coke and the mixture was incinerated at high temperatures. It was considered that since the cement plants ordinarily burn fuel at around 1400 degrees Celsius, there was no way that the sludge-based fuel could emit dioxin that is harmful to human health.

Indeed, the Cyprian cement industry

The targeted sectors of the cement

industry were that of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Cyprus and Turkey where the

potential for improvement and better utilization of the existing infrastructure in the cement

industry is significant.

Eco-Transportation Pavements

The pursuit of sustainable projects through the use of recyclable and green materials has also been seen in the road industry. This has mainly been undertaken in the so-called EcoLanes project (Achilleos 2010 p. 379). In this project, the road industry has been exploring the prospect of eco-construction methods. The underlying presupposition is that pavements can fit within the country’s framework of sustainability in development. Using the life cycle approach, research has been directed towards the assessment of conventional pavements so as to determine the ways in which they affect the environment and the various alternatives that exist. It is thought that such a measure would greatly contribute to the achievement of global targets on pollution control.

 

New pavement designs have been introduced and their contribution to environmental sustainability assessed. In this alternative pavement, the concrete layer is reinforced using tire recycling product. Post-consumer tires are used to produce fibers that improve strength, thereby preventing cracking. This has been to reduce maintenance works in comparison with the conventional flexible pavement. Such a benefit is associated with many contributions to eco-friendliness. For instance, it is associated with a reduction of air pollutants by 15% as well as the use of 28% less embodied energy compared to those made using asphalt. Moreover, the costs of this eco-construction project went down by 0.06% ((Achilleos 2010 p. 380).

 

The aim of the EcoLanes project was to develop pavement infrastructure with the use of roller compaction techniques, which are based on the existing equipment used to lay asphalt on the surface of roads as well as to dry concrete mixes that are reinforced using steel tire-cord fibers. It was expected that this new construction concept would drastically reduce construction costs, energy consumption, and consumption time. It would also minimize maintenance and make the wok of tire recycling much more economically attractive. The validation of the results obtained in this project were obtained by the construction of full-scale demonstration projects in European countries with diverse climates and economies, namely Romania, United Kingdom, Turkey, and now Cyprus.

 

The new pavement design was a remarkable manifestation of how the life-cycle approach can be used to study various environmental aspects of relevance throughout the duration of a project of this nature. The main areas focused on in this approach include the processes of acquiring and processing law materials, activities relating to construction and maintenance, distribution of raw materials from source to construction site, traffic congestion throughout the construction and maintenance duration, road usage, its end of life, an account of road demolition activities.

 

As clearly evident, this is a holistic approach that is constantly being used in research on road industry issues. The underlying aim has been to come up with new construction techniques and strategies that minimize the potential negative effects and to evaluate the use of various waste materials as recycling alternatives. The approach has also been of great help in identifying various risks that come with projects that are purported to be ‘green’ (Achilleos 2010 p. 379). In the case of the new road pavement design, a significant risk relates to the leaching behavior of toxic substances. In fact, this risk has led to imposition of restrictions on the reuse of certain byproducts by Swedish authorities. In the case of Denmark, it was found out that water eco-toxicity is more in the case of utilization in road construction than in land-filling. This may have greatly influenced the Sweden’s decision to impose restrictions.

 

In a similar case of restrictions by the state, France rejected the use of Blast Furnace Slag (BFS), as an alternative recyclable material for construction of roads (Achilleos 2010 p. 382). BFS is produced during oil extraction, and a major contribution to its recycling was its use in road construction. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that some of the byproducts used in road construction, including crushed concrete and BFS have proven to have greater environmental benefits than conventional construction materials.

 

The demonstration site for the new pavement design within Cyprus was located in the rural district of Paphos, which is a hilly, almost mountainous area. After the demonstration, it was proven that the proposed Eco-Transportation Pavements reinforced with rigid steel fiber constitute an environmentally sustainable design for Cyprus’ road construction industry (Achilleos 2010 p. 382). With the aim being green construction methodologies and technologies, this model is an appropriate alternative for all parts of the world. This technology may be ideal if pursued using plain design methodology as well as common-laying methods that are cost efficient.

 

When compared to the traditional asphalt pavement together with concrete pavements that are always wet-consistent, the new pavement approach appears to be more economically preferable. Moreover, the costs of purchasing asphalt and laying down this material affect the final cost of the asphalt pavement. The new pavement approach is more cost-efficient since the recyclable materials are freely available.

 

Meanwhile, there is need for updates on sustainability standards of the new road construction technology in line with new data sets, which would require revisions following monitoring efforts on emissions levels and emission rates (Achilleos 2010 p. 383). The task of monitoring data on level of sustainability may be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, quality of data is of utmost importance because it is the only basis upon which researchers may claim to have come up with accurate conclusions.

 

Construction techniques

            In the quest to realize sustainable development, adopting a comprehensive approach in all construction projects becomes indispensible. This requires a simultaneous development in economic, social, and environmental spheres. In other words, while seeking economic development, environmental and social development goals should not be ignored. The construction sector has an important role to play in sustainable development due to the environmental, social and economic effects created throughout the building process.

Indeed, sustainability continues to be an important consideration in Cyprus even in the construction business. The reality of the matter, though, is that the achievement of sustainable development remains a global challenge. This challenge is even bigger for developing countries such as Cyprus. According to Yitmen (2005, p. 19), sustainability brings together elements of competitiveness and long-term strategies and ties them together with economic objectives with the aim of creating an understanding of resource efficiencies and the need for social licensing before the commencement of operations. More sustainable construction practices need to be introduced in the context of globalization and the competitive strategies that are relevance for the performance of the industry in developing countries.

In the study undertaken by Yitmen (2005, p. 19), focus was on demonstrating that issues of sustainability are as critical as strategic considerations in the construction business, as shown in the case study of Cyprus. In Yitmen’s view, it is possible to adapt the Cyprus construction industry so as to derive benefits relating to globalization. However, this would require managers of various construction projects to institute the right strategies.

Various stakeholders have undertaken different measures in ensuring that the right strategies are conceived for use in the construction industry. One of these contributions, as reported by Kalogirou (2011, p. 8) entails the determination of the energy performance of buildings within the country. In most cases, this undertaking has been pursued from a scholarly perspective. In Kalogirou’s (2011, p. 25) study for instance, the aim was to categorize a sample of 500 housing units and classifying them according to energy performance. In this study, Kalogirou collected data using questionnaires. This information was analyzed statistically and the results interpreted. The main parameters that formed the various clusters included type, climatological zone, size, and age of each housing unit. The underlying aim was to make a suggestion on the number of categories of Energy Performance Certificate as well as the lower and upper energy consumption limits for each of these classes.

Such a study is also of great relevance since it can help policymakers come up with an energy behavior map. Such a map is useful in determining the influence of historical development of buildings in Cyprus and the dynamics of this historical change in correlation with energy performance behavior. It would be interesting to determine the effect of the use of various ‘green materials’, such as the ones used to insulate the buildings. This leads to the readjustment of practices, strategies, and approach not only in reflection of today’s reality, but also to show the extent to which the state should make improvements in the country’s construction industry.

In Kalogirou’s (2011, p. 25) study, special emphasis was on reporting on the various types and quantities of the materials used for insulation in Cyprus between January and September 2008. The data was obtained from individuals who claimed to have been beneficiaries of Cyprus’ financial subsidies. Some 400 individuals’ applications were evaluated, with 45% of the buildings being newly-constructed and the rest being existing ones. After an evaluation of the various kinds of materials used to insulate walls, roofs, and floorings, it was found out that the most extensively used strategies entailed double glazing for windows and doors (Kalogirou 2011, p. 29). Although this study is of great relevance, the author barely went beyond scratching the surface with regard to contribution to the greater use of ‘green’ materials in construction projects.

Nevertheless, there are many other scholars who go as far as to offer precise recommendations on how to ensure sustainability through green housing. For instance, Oktay (2002, p. 1008) argues that Cyprus needs one sector that where progress will be used as a yardstick on the way forward in sustainable development. In this regard, Oktay goes on to suggest that housing is the best sector to use for setting an example. This is because of of its unique positioning where it serves as a total entity for the satisfaction of all levels of needs (Oktay (2002, p. 1004). Any holistic policy that considers the broader issues of global environmental relevance would ordinarily be applicable to the housing sector at the local level.

As far as housing is concerned, development of sustainable approaches at the local level dwells largely on ways of improving the lifestyles of the local community through efficient use of all local resources (Loannides 1995, p. 584). In this case, the underlying aim should be on the attainment of self-sufficiency, which is very closely related to the task of coming up with the right ecological design that encompasses all aspects of the modern urban ecology. With this consideration in mind, there are many design issues that require special consideration in light of new developments as well as the need to comply with all the requirements of sustainability. For Oktay, design with climate remains one of the most crucial criteria that should be put into consideration.

In Cyprus, the climatic conditions differ according to regions, just like in the case of cultural patterns. In such a situation, each region appears to boast of what Oktay (2002, p. 1008) refers to as ‘vernacular architecture’. In this form of architecture, there are traditional forms of buildings that have been designed in a manner that resonates with the specific needs imposed by the local environment. In these traditional designs, it is imperative that a lot of experience, and creativity, has gone into the basic design and general orientation of old buildings. These designs are worth studying in greater details since they can be a source of crucial ideas and clues on how to utilize green building materials.  In fact, vernacular architecture is in most case always climatically appropriate, meaning that no drastic adjustments would be required in efforts to increase its sustainability. In essence, both the vernacular settlements and urban architectural patterns are sources of crucial clues on how to design sustainable housing developments (Hadjimitsis 2005, p. 31).

Nowadays, more attention is being put on urban environments, in which case some scholars are quick to point out that values that are based on life experiences in the rural areas are being neglected (Oktay 2008, p. 181). This neglect leads to shortage of designs that promote environmental quality in the country’s cities and towns, especially from the perspective of economic sustainability. Most of the housing environments, especially the ones that have been created on the basis of contemporary mass production systems, inevitably lack vital elements of sustainability. They also lack the environmentally friendly qualities that are ordinarily an integral element of traditional architecture. This explains why it is important to focus on the diverse requirements of sustainable development. These requirements should be looked at both from a philosophical perspective and from the viewpoint of the process through which the environments are made and managed.

Oktay (2008, p. 181) argues that in their current form, the current urban architectural practices cannot be said to be sustainable. However, the vernacular, traditional settlements across Cyprus constitute excellent examples of how a long-established, environmentally friendly architectural culture can be preserved. In this culture, it is worthwhile to note the efficient way in which local resources are use. Of specific importance is the way in which materials are recycled as well as how wastage is avoided. These procedures are marched with the local pool of skills as well as the need to meet the people’s needs.

One of the green materials that are routinely used in the traditional Cyprus settings, but whose potential contribution to sustainability has not been fully harnessed is earth as a construction material. Until recent decades, the use of earth as a construction material was widespread across Cyprus. Its main advantage is that it is abundant by island standards. However, its main disadvantage is vulnerability to moisture. In recent times, this vulnerability has inspired investigations on how the problem can be solved in efforts towards ensuring the material’s continued contribution to sustainable development. Isik (2009, p. 18) reports that as early as 1978 researchers at Istanbul Technical University have been undertaking research into gypsum-stabilized earth, known as Alker. Already, Alker has demonstrated to have increased durability, superior physical qualities, and human health benefits. All these qualities make the improved earthen material an ideal green alternative to many construction materials that are in use in Cyprus today.

In Cyprus, there are many other materials that can be reinforced in the same way as Alker so as to transform them into excellent contributors to sustainable development in this island country with a rich architectural heritage. In this regard, it is worthwhile to mention that focus on historic building materials is necessary. An investigation into historical building materials as well as environmental resources would not only chart a path towards sustainability but also encourage reliance on green materials in light of local people’s needs from socio-economic, cultural, and ecological perspectives (Ozay 2011, p. 12).

Refurbishing historical buildings

Fortunately, there is abundance of literature on historical buildings in Cyprus and ways of refurbishing and reusing them to make them more sustainable. In the case of refurbishment, a notable study was done by Efstathiades (2009). Efstathiades (2009, p. 64) considered the use of steel and aluminum and steel to refurbish historical buildings. In Efstathiades’s work, the principle of reversibility is used to analyze the techniques used in the structural restoration processes. In choosing the two structural metals, consideration was put on their mechanical properties as well as their reversibility characteristics. Emphasis was on how to form integrated structural systems. In this study, there is continued reference to previously-used frameworks of rehabilitating and strengthening Cyprus’s two-storey historical buildings.

The best way to understand the need for sustainability consideration in historical buildings is to first understand Cyprus’s architectural heritage. Most of historical buildings in Cyprus were constructed in the 20th century and are mainly masonry structures made using calcarenite stone. A few others are made using materials such as wood and steel. A lot of such buildings existed until the 1990s when most of them were demolished so as to create room for the construction of high-rise ‘modern’ buildings, mainly with the use of reinforced concrete.

 

However, over the last two decades, the Cyprus government has realized the historical and architectural value of the buildings. Through the Department of Town Planning, the government has been undertaking a subsidized plan, whereby 50% of the cost of refurbishment on all historical building is done by the government. The refurbishment procedure is a highly sophisticated matter that requires a civil engineer to be armed with special scientific skills. The civil engineers often acknowledge that the refurbishment process is much more complicated than the process of designing a new building of the same structural variety.

 

The special requirements of each building have to be put into consideration, even though most of these buildings are made of masonry, with wooden or steel floor. For this task a wide of materials becomes necessary, thereby bringing to the fore the question of sustainability for each of them. In terms of their effect on the environment, the main question arising is on whether these materials are green enough to warrant their use in refurbishing these buildings. In typical case, the civil and structural engineers have to delve into the twin issues of aesthetics and sustainability when deciding which blend of materials for refurbishing are the most appropriate.

Sustainability of housing patterns on the island

Other than the special requirements for refurbishing historical buildings, there is also a more deep-seated problem of ensuring sustainability in housing patterns on the island. Oktay (2010, p. 3) argues the newly created urban environment in Cyprus is not only extensively devastated in terms of local values, but it also lacks a design that promotes the quality of the Mediterranean environment. Most of cities housing environments, particularly those created as part of the mass-production system, lack vital elements of sustainability. They also lack the ideal environmental qualities that should ordinarily be accorded consideration at both an urban planning and an architectural level. The most important requirement in this regard is consideration for sustainable development. Sustainable development should be a foundational value upon which the tasks of managing urban landscapes in Cyprus should be appended.

In the current norm, lack of sustainability considerations in urban planning in Cyprus have led Oktay (2010, p. 4) to state that the architectural and urban planning strategies of the island are not sustainable. In sharp contrast, the vernacular patterns of architecture present excellent examples of sustainability, whereby a culture of proper use of local resources has been established. In this culture, local skills have been matched with local values in order to come up with solutions that meet the specific needs of the people.

To assess whether Oktay’s conception of Cyprus cities being unsustainable is an agreeable one, it is important to first define what a sustainable city is. A sustainable city is one whereby citizens are able to meet their needs and to improve their wellbeing without causing harm to the natural world or the lives of the present or future generation. In this undertaking, housing is always at the heart of changing circumstances, where people play a key role in the creation of habitats while at the same time creating lasting opportunities for adaptability and flexibility. A sustainable housing facility is one that can sustain changes while at the same time being adaptive to long-range needs of the user as well as market conditions and life cycles.

In its present form, the design of towns and cities in Cyprus was based entirely on a uni-directional, unplanned urbanization (Faslı 2003, p. 82). Without any consideration to sustainability issues, the notion of density was not given much thought. The existing social dynamics were not put into consideration either. This contrast sharply with the traditional urban pattern, whose medieval character made it look like a perfect piece of lacework, with everything falling in the right place. The various elements that seem to have been at just the right place include courtyard houses, open public spaces, and streets.

Today, these traditional, cohesive neighborhoods are being replaced by slab-like apartment buildings that are scattered all over in residential areas. In most cases, these buildings cannot be recognized as a cohesive entity. This leads to the loss of identity in all districts. Although the spacious splendor of modern residential areas creates a lot of open spaces for children to play and people to maneuver, they are not being properly managed and maintained. This creates an environment where the landscape appears disjointed, there is no relationship between buildings, and provision and strategic positioning of amenities becomes impossible.

In matters of planning, the question of sustainability relates a lot to the extent to which the housing environment is habitable. In this respect, a holistic look at humans’ social life is necessary. From this perspective, criticism has been directed towards massive housing projects that are built on the edges of towns and cities, which promote individualism and alienation. In such a social situation, it is not proper to talk about sustainable development.

Within the old settlements in Cyprus, the notion of neighborhood was highly valued. It is only after this value was neglected that the country’s traditional life started deteriorating. However, the constructions of private and public outdoor spaces in traditional areas where there are residential buildings have not escaped the influence of the traditional social and spatial aspects of local life. In these constructions, it is common to find semi-private spaces juxtaposed with courtyards, the latter of which constitute private spaces. As for the streets, the explicitly defined space is yet to lose its direct link with residential houses. The street is ideally the communal meeting place for all neighbors. On the end of the courtyard, one is likely to find a courtyard whose purpose is normally holding social events of diverse kinds.

In new housing developments, these positive environmental qualities are rarely reflected, and this causes loss of the sense of community and the feeling of communal responsibility that comes with it. In a setting where there is no social cohesion, residents are highly likely to neglect issues of environmental importance, for example the use of green materials and recycling objects whose accumulation may be harmful to their lives as well as the environment. The lack of transition between private and public settings may create challenges in efforts by authorities to put in place measures aimed at bringing about sustainability.
Today, the sustainability literature contains a lot of information on the need to plan cities in such a way that the exchange between services s maximized while the travel required to do it is minimized. This means that a person should be able to access a wide variety of services and to do as many things as possible within the shortest possible walking distance of his place of work and residence. Interestingly enough, the implication of such an approach is that the traditional setting is the most appropriate for purposes of achieving the goals of sustainability. In the example of the traditional Cypriot town, the residential-area streets were designed in such a way that pedestrians could use a hierarchical logic to move from main streets to narrower streets. Individual houses were served with the narrowest streets, whose dead end marked the beginning of a resident’s private space and house. In this way, the spatial character of the residence was well enclosed, creating a sustainably protected environment.

Managerial methods claiming the use of sustainable construction in the past in relation to present and future

From a managerial perspective, the Cyprus government has made significant strides in encouraging the use of green materials. The managerial-approach measures used range from the use of incentives and planning mechanisms to encouragement of sustainable tourism. However, the managerial approaches of the early 1990s did not pay attention to issues of sustainability as much as those of the 2000s. Lately, the government has expressed concerns regarding the continued loss of the country’s valuable historical buildings, which constitute valuable manifestation of centuries-old heritage. In the course of the boom characterizing the early 2000s, the Cyprian government has appeared to prioritize generation of income and employment opportunities at the expense of sustainability. A notable exception in this regard is the energy sector, where focus on renewable energy sources has contribution to the recognition of the country’s managerial approach internationally.

Whenever the government focuses attention on sustainability issues in Cyprus, emphasis is normally directed towards the environmental impact of the ongoing boom. In this regard, environmental costs and deficiencies are normally put into consideration, particularly in light of land zoning regulations. However, owing to unplanned urbanization and rapid construction, it has been impossible to avoid environmental pollution. This has created the need for concerted efforts to put in place environmental legislation, mainly at the level of local government.

Politics has tended to feature prominently in the debate on sustainability. The country’s political system is intricate and the prevailing power structure has been a key factor in the understanding of the way policies are developed, planned for, and implemented. In the construction sector, the main problems relating to politics emanate from the use of public resources as a power instrument and politicization of the public sector (Yasarata 2010, p. 352). Therefore, a proper understanding of the Cyprian political landscape is necessary as a way of contextualizing the ongoing managerial approach in sustainable development with regard to new construction projects.

Gronau (2008, p. 91) notes that since the mid-1990s, the debate on how to achieve the goal of sustainability in the construction sector has been vogue, particularly those relating to tourism. Gronau observes that the question of whether the underlying construction framework in the tourism sector is consistent with the goal of sustainability has remained largely unanswered. Gronau argues that there is need for an interdisciplinary perspective in understanding the way in which managerial approaches of the government’s construction sector have been changing. Meanwhile, an underlying goal has been that of preserving local heritage, encouraging sustainable tourism, and emphasizing on location branding, sometimes through new constructions. For many policymakers in the government, the goal of refurbishing historical buildings should be prioritized over the emergence of new construction projects, since will also serve the additional role of promoting tourism.

Distinction between sustainable constructions in England and in Cyprus: How do they differ and what are the reasons?

In England, the construction industry has been thriving for the last few centuries. Just like Cyprus, England has a rich heritage of architectural designs. The only major different is magnitude; today, the UK’s construction industry is a massive undertaking that generates a very large amount of construction wastes. It would appear that England’s construction is in need of a more urgent overhaul in light of sustainability considerations compared to Cyprus. In England, construction and demolition waste constitutes one of the main setbacks in the pursuit of green materials. About 51% of this waste is deposited in landfills, 40% is used to reclaim land, and 9% is crushed for use in the future. This is not the main problem; the biggest problem is that this waste may be contaminated, sometimes through spillage and at other times through industrial processes. It may also come into contact with contaminated land. From a managerial perspective, England suffers from problems that are almost similar to those of Cyprus. One of these problems is the lack of a classification system for various types of waste.

Nevertheless, there are many ways in which the England’s experiences can be of great use in the context of Cyprus. An excellent example is on research on various disposal mechanisms. At the University of Manchester, specifically at the UK Building Research Establishment, research findings relating to waste disposal revealed that throwing away waste in landfills is uneconomic; that instead, it is better to recycle the waste in ‘land-modeled’, low-grade settings. Better still, for those wastes that cannot be recycled, it is more economical to dispose them on-site.

Stakeholders in Cyprus can also learn a lot from England’s brickwork industry. In England, the brickwork industry has been thriving for centuries and it part of the country’s architectural heritage. Focus is increasingly targeted at the use of renewable materials, and stakeholders in the brickwork industry have been keen to come up with associated aspects such as under-floor heating, natural ventilation that eliminates the need for artificial lighting for most of daytime, and installation of photovoltaic panels. As part of progress in this industry, there is also a tendency towards the use of materials that can be recycled while at the same time possessing low embodied energy. Moreover, just like in the UK, it is possible for brick walling to be extended to commercial buildings in Cyprus. For such buildings, many UK contractors tend to avoid curtain walling owing to the fact that it is not very sustainable.

One good thing with brickwork is that it can work out with many other materials during the construction process, thereby increasing chances of recycling. A common trend entails covering wood frames with bricks. For purposes of sustainability, the rule of thumb is that the more wood one uses instead of other materials, the greater the return to the environment. When the wood is covered with bricks, this increases permanence, thereby preventing destruction through rain penetration.

The greatest contribution that England can make to Cyprus, though, it seems, is on the issue of managerial approaches to sustainable construction. The approaches used in the management of sustainability-related efforts are much more developed in the UK than in Cyprus.the English Highway Agency is an excellent example of proper managerial practices at work. The Agency has been involved in numerous road construction projects that contribute greatly to various aspects of sustainability, including management of resources, reducing energy consumption, reducing emissions, biodiversity, landscape and townscape heritage, partnerships for sustainable businesses, and respect for people and their local environment.

Regarding the management of natural resources, the UK government strategy through the Highways Agency is to ensure that resources are used prudently. The government acknowledges that it is not realistic for people to be in denial about the use of non-renewable resources such as oil and gas; rather there is need to ensure that these resources are used in an efficient manner, and that alternatives are always introduced to replace them at the earliest possible opportunity. In spite of proper managerial structures being in place, England continues to face the challenge of wasted construction products, most of them non-energy materials. This is as a result of poor design and planning. Apart from this inefficiency leading to wastage of materials, it also contributes to wasted money, time, and reduced profits.

Conclusion

In summary, sustainable development is an interesting concept that continues to generate debate in all parts of the world. In Cyprus, things are no different, as evident in the ambitious manner in which renewable sources of energy are being used in this island country. Cyprus is internationally recognized because of its success in the use of solar and wind energy for heating and lighting purposes.

Meanwhile, renewable energy constitutes only one of the facets of sustainability efforts in Cyprus. In many new housing construction projects, there are worries about loss of ecological diversity. There are also concerns about loss of the country’s heritage in the form of historical architectural marvels. Most importantly, lack of proper town planning in new constructions is a threat to the environment. It is against this backdrop that the notion of ‘green’ materials and the use of recycled materials has become a topic of great socio-economic importance.

There are many examples where green materials have been used and by products recycled for use in environmentally friendly constructions. Such information is available in the scholarly literature explored in the present paper. There is also a wealth of information in the people’s cultural repository, for instance in rural Cyprus settings, where the idea of traditional architecture is widely appreciated by both the local communities as well as the government.

There are many sustainable construction projects underway in Cyprus, notably in the energy, road, and housing sectors. Although many of these projects are a success, authorities need to be aware of emerging challenges, as the case of brickworks in England shows. Although England has made significant steps towards the entrenchment of the right managerial approaches relating to sustainability, the country continues to face the deep-seated problem of wastage of too many recyclable materials in the construction industry, leading to wastage of money and reduction of profits. For Cyprus, the challenge of new construction goes beyond entrenching the right managerial approach to cover awareness of emerging problems relating to sustainable development.

 

References

Achilleos, C, 2010, ‘Comparison of Conventional and “ECO” Transportation Pavements in Cyprus using Life Cycle Approach’, World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Vol. 66, No. 3, pp. 379-383.

Efstathiades, O, 2009, Refurbishment of historical buildings by using steel and aluminum: The case study of the municipal library of Limassol, Cyprus, Taylor & Francis Group, London.

Faslı, M, 2003, A model for sustaining city identity, case study : Lefkosa (Nicosia) in Cyprus, Free Press, New York.

Gronau, Werner  (2008): Tourism as a Stimulus for Sustainable Development in Rural Areas: A Cypriot Perspective. Published in: TOURISMOS: An International Multidisciplinary Journal of Tourism , Vol. 4, No. 1 (15. April 2009): pp. 83-95.

Hadjimitsis, D, 2005, ‘The Use of Satellite Remote Sensing for the Management of Cultural heritage sites in Cyprus’, CIPA 2005 XX International Symposium, 26 September – 01 October, 2005, Torino, Italy.

Isik, B, 2009, Sustainable housing in island conditions using Alker-gypsum-stabilized earth: A case study from Cyprus, Free Press, New York.

Kalogirou, S, 2011, Classification of buildings in Cyprus based on their energy performance, Transactions of the Wessex Institute, 27 November 2011.

Loannides, D, 1995, ‘A flawed implementation of sustainable tourism: the experience of Akamas, Cyprus’, Tourism Management, Vol. 16, No. 8, pp. 583-592.

Oktay, D, 2002, ‘Design with the climate in housing environments: an case study of the island of Cyprus’, Building and Environment, Vol. 37, No. 10, pp. 1003-1012.

Oktay, D, 2008, ‘In pursuit of humane and sustainable housing patterns on the island of Cyprus’, International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 179-188.

Oktay, D, 2010, The Quest For Sustainable Housing Patterns On The Island Of Cyprus, Foundation Press, New York.

Ozay, G, 2011, Re-using historic buildings in Cyprus, Transactions of the Wessex Institute, 27 November 2011.

Panayiotou, G, 2010, ‘The characteristics and the energy behaviour of the residential building stock of Cyprus in view of Directive 2002/91/EC’, Energy and Buildings, Vol. 42, No. 11, pp. 2083-2089.

Yasarata, M, 2010, ‘Politics and sustainable tourism development – Can they co-exist?’Tourism Management, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 345-356.

Yitmen, I, 2005, Globalization and Competitive Strategies for Sustainable Construction in a Developing Country: The Cyprian Construction Industry, 10DBMC International Conference On Durability of Building Materials and Components, LYON [France] 17-20 April 2005.

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