I have been a researcher for over 20 years conducting research at the international and local levels working with multiple organisations on a cross sectoral basis. I have founded and run an international research group, developed innovative research methodologies as well as published my research with leading academic publishers. I am passionate about research, and here’s why.
Research is a fundamental driver of innovation in society, it informs our interaction with the world around us and each other, it enables us to make decisions about how we go about our daily lives and drives humanity into the future.
Research relating to sustainability is evolving all the time with an emphasis on transdisciplinarity and an integrated approach to the challenges we face. With that in mind there has been a proliferation of research that relates to sustainability, so much so that it is often difficult to identify relevant work and even more difficult to make connections across different fields and disciplines.
In the built environment this is especially pertinent as a recent RICS survey indicated that silo thinking and fragmentation extends to the availability of effective and centralised sources of data. This silo thinking is a fundamental barrier to achieving effective sustainability research and this is something that I have witnessed in multiple sectors. The Global Trends in Data Capture and Management in Real Estate and Construction report concludes that:
‘A more systematic and coherent approach to data capture and management by organisations will significantly support more informed public policy-making and investment and management practices. In addition, it will help organisations to protect the value of their assets and comply with their fiduciary duties and will provide the basis for identifying innovation needs for the building sector to achieve the 2050 targets’. (RICS 2017:30)
And to complicate matters even further the way that research is utilised by society is not straightforward. The best research does not necessarily translate into effective policy outcomes, inform legislation and improve the world around us. We live in a politicised and media driven world and embedded power dynamics often dictate how research is used and disseminated. With that in mind it is essential that not only the most relevant existing research, but also the best designed and evaluated new research is utilised in order to embed sustainability throughout the built environment.
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