NU SEDS Research seminar “To make buildings sustainable during a pandemic”

SEDS Research seminars 1
January 25, 2023 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Nazarbayev university, Block 3, Room 3.416
NU SEDS Research seminar "To make buildings sustainable during a pandemic" @ Nazarbayev university, Block 3, Room 3.416

School of Engineering and Digital Sciences, Nazarbayev University invite you to attend the research seminar “To make buildings sustainable during a pandemic” by Prof. Ferhat Karaca, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, NU SEDS.

Dr. Karaca’s main research area lies in a multidisciplinary area in civil and environmental engineering by focusing on sustainable civil infrastructure and built environment research, having been involved in the body of research at the cutting-edge side of the domain, addressing the urgent requirements to develop materials, designs, and methods for resilient infrastructure and urban services and green technology solutions in cities / urban systems in developed and developing countries. He worked in the UK, Turkey, and the USA and is currently an Associate Professor at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan).  He was involved in several international projects and primarily focused on building sustainability, the impacts of urban air pollution and its impacts on public health, urban air quality assessment and modeling, and environmental modeling.

ABSTRACT: Both pandemics and pandemic mitigation measures have significant health, economic, and social & political impacts, e.g., mortality and morbidity, short- and long-term economic damage, behavioral changes, important social and economic disruption due to mitigation measures, and political tensions. During the recent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we have witnessed that one of the most effective emergency measures to protect society is to keep them indoors to ensure social distancing, which is crucial to reducing community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the built environment. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, like in other industries, professionals in the environmental and sustainability domains should expect major changes, including innovations, to adapt to the new reality and to protect vulnerable populations during another upcoming epidemic/pandemic.

It is expected to see a continuing increase in the demand for green and/or sustainable building concepts; however, current approaches to ensure buildings’ sustainability and assessment methods need to be modified and updated. PANSUST project was constructed on the opinion following observations during the current pandemic that the sustainability performance of buildings during the lockdown changes drastically compared to that of under normal circumstances. The pandemic measures have caused social isolation, abrupt lifestyle changes, and uncertainty and thus brought emerging concerns on personal well-being mainly caused by staying for more extended periods in indoor isolation, particularly in high-density urban areas. Consequently, PANSUST project, namely “PANSUST: Effects of pandemics on sustainable buildings and development of a sustainability assessment tool based on COVID-19 experience” aimed to raise a need to (1) maintain the sustainability performance of buildings under extraordinary (i.e., pandemic) measures, (2) modify the building sustainability assessment tools such that a building’s sustainability performance could also be assessed correctly in the scenario of an extended lockdown, and (3) ensure these changes support and enhance residents’ well-being during the event.

In the past, building sustainability assessment tools have been designed by considering people’s daily routines under normal circumstances. Due to significant changes in practices and operations during pandemic cases for extended periods, they need to be adapted to longer-term self-isolation conditions to ensure sustainable services. Based on the emerging requirements of a pandemic, the readiness of these systems for post-pandemic periods varies. Significant modifications are still required to stabilize work-from-home requirements and living conditions and disrupted social and environmental needs during the pandemic prevention and control. Pansust project handles this key question by guiding and suggesting an adaptation of sustainable building systems.

This talk will summarise the project’s main achievements and re-address a critical question to the NU community: “What we learned from the recent pandemic to modify the building suitability criteria and assessment methods to promote more sustainable living conditions during such difficult periods affecting entire populations?”

We would be pleased to see you at our seminar!