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Design assistance tool for sustainable construction in conflict and crises affected context: from concept design to operation and maintenance

The ICRC sustainable construction tool is a digital design-support tool developed to enhance sustainable decision-making for construction projects in the humanitarian sector worldwide. It supports Project managers, Architects and Engineers along the whole project life cycle via quantitative and qualitative context-informed sustainability feedback and recommendations. It is currently in its pilot rollout phase.

Giulia Celentano


date June 29, 2022 | 10:30 - 13:00
Multifunction Hall Room 4
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Greener Urban Futures
TE 20


WHAT IS IT: The tool is a digital instrument providing for sustainability guidelines and assessments related to medium to large-scale construction projects, as: healthcare, educational facilities, and more.  It combines qualitative and quantitative sustainability feedback and recommendations of the assessed project covering, among others: design recommendations, material choice, carbon emissions of materials and transport, hazard exposure and environmental threats, basic water management, energy performance including simple  PV system dimensioning sheet, construction waste management, socio-cultural aspects, handover and maintenance support.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: The tool is designed for construction project managers, technical officers and chiefs of units of humanitarian organizations working on medium to large-scale construction projects, as well as for their local partners.  
The tool does not require sustainability expertise to be used. It does require Engineering and/or Architectural background.

WHERE TO USE IT: The tool  is intended for global use, with specific relevance for regions of interest for humanitarian operations, as conflict and crisis-affected sites. It combines worldwide-applicable feedback as well as location-informed analysis, for a more precise assessment. 

HOW TO USE IT: You’ll need a laptop and internet connection to use the tool, which is accessible via any web browser.

CREDITS: The ICRC sustainable construction tool was commissioned by the ICRC Water and Habitat Unit, developed by ETH Zurich (Chair of Sustainable Construction) and Design to Production Gmbh in collaboration with EPFL (Building 2050 Group) and with the support of EcoInvent Database.

Participants will learn:

  • how the tool can support the sustainability of construction projects in the diverse project development phases;
  • how to include simplified environmental impact assessment in the early design phase;
  • how to account for water management, waste management and energy systems in the early design phase, on a site-based approach;
  • how the tool can facilitate operation, maintenance and monitoring phase, where often a significant loss of performance is identified;
  • how the tool can support organizations in monitoring their own progress towards the achievement of more sustainable operations;

The tool is additionally to be considered as a capacity-building tool, conveying the following content:

  • relevance of addressing sustainability in a holistic way within construction projects in the humanitarian sector
  • factors contributing to a sustainable design and construction approach in the humanitarian context;
  • strong interconnection of construction operations with key societal and environmental aspects;
  • enhanced  resource management, including materials, water, waste and energy; 
  • optimized maintenance and monitoring strategy


  • introduce the users to the digital tool through a step-by-step interactive presentation;
  • provide access to the digital tool to enhance its feedback pool, collect participants contacts include them in the tool revision,upcoming tool release phases and more
  • consider inputs and requests from humanitarian organizations with regards to specific construction projects or sustainability aspects, to be included in the next tool development phases
  • introduce the need for a specific approach to sustainability in the context of crises and conflict with regards to construction projects, specifically placing attention on the role of humanitarian organizations in setting the right path for sustainable practice worldwide;

The training will, in summary, provide access to the ICRC sustainable construction tool which facilitates targeting sustainable development in a holistic way, specifically addressing Goal11 sustainable cities and communities while also contributing to Goal 3, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, and more

Session speakers

Mr. Pavlos Tamvakis
Head of Construction, WatHab Unit
Dr. Giulia Celentano
Project Lead
ETH Zurich
Mrs. Hager Al Laham
Data Scientist
ETH Zurich
Dr. André Ullal
Scientific Collaborator.