Scope

SB-LAB 2017 - International Conference on Advances on Sustainable Cities and Buildings Development adopted the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development as the reference for its scope and goals. Proposed topics aim to cover all the Sustainable Development Goals in order to achieve the contribute that architecs, engineers, contractors, politics and the construction industry in general may bring to these goals. Innovative solutions are a challenge to the near future that seems to be narrow as local actions have global impacts and global impacts affect locally environment, economic, social and culture. Its a difficult cycle to reverse, that seems to spin ever faster.

The construction industry has a global impact on environmental, economical and social conditions of the humans, as it trades and displaces resources around the globe, produce industrial components for construction that consumes primary materials, water and energy resources, gives employment to millions of persons. People displacement makes cities growing and therefore the number of urban inhabitants which increases the potable water and energy use to operate public and private spaces. New settlements of refugees create new problems that no prior experience on such massive human flows difficult to achieve dignity conditions for these inhabitants. Resources extraction destroyed natural regions and therefore lead several species to extinction or being considered in danger. The construction industry is a part of the problem, but if not a part of the solution, actions may be taken to mitigate their impacts on natural environment and also in the inhabitants’ life and social condition.

Therefore, the Agenda 2030 is the background of the SB-Lab project that starts with an international conference and an international students competition, expecting to grow as a web discussion platform on sustainable built environments, linking academics, researchers, students and practitioners from all over the world.


Construction industry, from the extraction of natural resources, to materials and components fabrication, building construction and CDW collection and treatment, is a manufacturing chain that employees millions of people. Construction industry can locally improve the welfare of the families, if equal opportunities, working conditions and fair incomes can be given to workers in every spot of this huge supply chain.

Fair incomes and opportunities to produce food locally may mitigate the hunger problem. Urban farms can be part of the solution, using the empty spaces of urban fabrics, or even the buildings’ roof tops as agricultural urban areas.

Comfort and health are strongly connected to the built environment. The investment in green public spaces may provide inhabitants of opportunities for outdoor activities and socialising. Materials used in construction can also affect the inhabitant’s health, such as asbestos or volatile organic compounds that are proven to be carcinogenic. Indoor air quality is also an important aspect to be solved by the building design, adapting passive strategies to air renovation, reducing mold and VOC concentration.

Construction industry may contribute to quality education by providing low cost building solutions that can be implemented in poor countries for the construction of local schools. Education is the pillar of a free society and to improve the role of each one in a community.
Social role of construction industry is also important on gender equality. Traditionally an industry for men, gender equality may be reached to accept women's role as equal as the men, providing equal incomes and job opportunities.

Access to clean water and sanitation is part of the buildings infrastructures. However, the amount of clean water tends do decline as sewage water tend to increase as urban areas are becoming larger. Another aspect is that deforestation and emission of green house effect gases are affecting availability of clean water resources. This situation leads to the displacement of people in search of survival.

Nearly zero energy, net zero energy and energy-plus buildings are the contribution that construction industry may give to this SDG. Reduce energy needs and to implement energy production from renewable sources will reduce the environmental impacts of built environment, reducing the emissions of green house effect gases. Buildings operating on a energy efficient way is a well studied field and the one where most of changes have been made on traditional ways of building.

The construction industry employees millions of people all over the world. Most of them work under subhuman conditions with low incomes. Construction industry must think on its social role by one side, and to create new market opportunities as the salvage of construction materials and components.

Current materials supply chain in construction industry has to change in order to mitigate environmental impacts. Research on materials recovery, on components reversibility and interchangeability, as also on new materials with a low environmental impact, is fundamental to improve the environmental performance of the construction industry.

Given access to quality urban public spaces and access to affordable housing are actions that may contribute to reduce inequalities. Therefore, investment in public areas and in affordable housing solutions may be the contribution of the construction industry to mitigate this problem.

Cities and buildings are the product of the construction industry. Thus turning those more sustainable by diminishing their impact on natural environment, improving life conditions for the inhabitants and social equity is what we should expect for our future cities and buildings.

Construction industry is responsible of consumption of a great amount of natural resources. Rethinking materials, components and buildings in a way that construction can be made reversible will improve the quality of reclaimed materials and therefore reduce the need of new primary resources. Lean construction and spatial flexibility may reduce the materials mass embodied, not only at the construction phase but also over the building life span.

Construction industry and the built environment are responsible for the great part of the green house effect gases. From mining activities to urban environments that are based on single car transportation, the influence of the built environment on climatic change is a fact. Rethinking how cities and buildings operate on a non-based hydrocarbon society is a fundamental step to be achieved.

Not directly related to life below water, construction industry may also influence the marine ecosystems, as many constructions are grounded in water environments and also construction of harbours may change natural ocean currents, leading to the disappearing of natural dunes. Also construction on rivers bank may produce changes on natural habitat. However, some non contaminated CDW may be use to artificially create coral reefs and recover marine life.

Construction industry has a great impact on life on land through deforestation, mining, occupation of fertile soils, displacement of water flows, and changing the natural cycles of nutrients. The extinction increase of animal species is a fact and several species are being added to the list of endangered species. To reduce the use of primary resources and the investment on local forestry species are fundamental to minimize the environmental impacts. Invest on closing materials loop may create a new economy not based only on virgin resources.

A built environment who provides equal opportunities and safeguards the human condition, is a step to peace and equity among citizens. Citizens roles in institutions are different among cultures, but providing equal access to housing and health should be a requirement of any kind of fair society.

Change of experiences and practices are fundamental to improve built solutions. Partnerships for develop new approaches and solutions that might mitigate the impact of construction industry in our planet must be developed locally and globally.


As a Special Chapter, Biomimetics intends to bring the natural dimension of many solutions for materials, components and construction systems. Being a new field on construction research, biomimetics can open a new approach on how we think our buildings and turn them closer to natural systems.

Authors intending to submit papers to SB-LAB 2017 are encouraged to address one of the topics of the Conference by providing evidence on past experience and ongoing research work.

Further, SB-LAB 2017 will welcome papers and presentations on field work, case studies and theoretical approaches to sustainable cities and buildings development.