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The Surveyor's Role in Developing a Sustainable Society

Narelle Underwood ~ Undergraduate Thesis ~ October 2008
Supervised by Michael Green and Darryl Warry

The Surveyor's Role

The research identified four key areas in which surveyors play a critical role in sustainable development:

1. Development Design

A Surveyor may be the first contact that a developer has with relation. During the course of their education, surveyors receive generalist training in a variety of disciplines. Other than the traditional areas of surveying and land use they also have a basic knowledge of water drainage and design, geotechnical aspects including soil and pavement design, hazard identification and site analysis, town planning and planning policies, sustainability and law. This places them in a unique position which allows them to identify the best use and development of a site and places them in the best position to act as the leaders of any form of development.

2. Project Management 

Surveyors need to take a more senior and integrated approach to land development and management. By this I mean that surveyors need to become project managers from the onset of a development as part of the initial planning and design team. Aspects such as road and lot orientation, as well as size, landscaping, house design and water and energy consumption all need to be considered.

3. Land Administration

Surveyors are the creators and keepers of the cadastre and the land administration systems of the future will need to be able to handle an increasingly complex combination of rights, restrictions and responsibilities over land due to environmental, social and economic issues. The UN-FIG Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable Development, known as the Bathurst Declaration, confirmed that appropriate land administration systems are an integral part to the achievement of the sustainable development objectives as outlined in Agenda 21.

In order to make good planning decisions for sustainable development the authorities need access to accurate and relevant information. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) may be the tool for ensuring that the impacts of development do not have detrimental effects on the environment. There are large amounts of data available but access to it is often hampered due to a lack of standardisation and metadata. Surveyors, with the support of other professions, can solve these issues and accurately map and identify both the natural and man-made environment and place the information into GIS to allow the relevant authorities to make well informed decisions.

4. Monitoring

In project management it has been said that the last day of your project becomes Day 1 for the occupants. As the implementation of sustainable development in housing estates is only a relatively new concept it is essential to ensure that our current understandings, designs and the devices we install are working to reduce our eco-footprint and creating happy inhabitants. Therefore it essential for the surveyor as a project manager to have post-occupancy surveys carried out in the short, medium and long term to not only identify what is and isn’t working but to also gain recommendations for future projects. Monitoring/audit programs should also be established with utility and service providers so we can better understand how much water/energy we are saving.