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Environmental Impact Assessment Programs and Regulations

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Architecture
Wordcount: 5458 words Published: 30th Apr 2018

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This chapter will provide a review of the development process of Environmental Impact Assessment Programs (EIAP) for buildings for different countries and different regions of the world as a reflection on the continuing evolution of building environmental assessment tools. This chapter includes two sections: the first section will present the initial structure and types for EIAP and will also compare some programs on their categories and weighting systems to anticipate the directions of future developments for building environmental assessment programs. Understanding how EIAP for buildings developed over the past 20 years is the main outcome of this chapter as it will provide evidence for the research hypothesis and justifications for the methodologies undertaken in this research.


The main aim of this chapter is to review the development process of EIAP for buildings; its categories, weighting systems and methodologies used in developing these programs. It will serve as a starting point in developing an evaluation tool especially designed for the Egyptian environment. To achieve this aim some objectives have been adopted:

  • Review and compare different types of EIAP for buildings from variety of regions, emphasizing on their categories of assessment, weighting systems and their latest developments.
  • Investigate the future development direction for EIAP for buildings.

The development of EIAP for buildings

Building sector contribute significantly to energy consumption all over the world. It is responsible for 38% of the world primary energy consumption and the CO2 emission resulting from these huge levels of consumption, as shown in Figure 2-1 (BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2008, International Energy Agency (IEA) Statistics Division, 2008). A lot of experts believe that the building sector in the world could help reducing 1.8 billion tones of CO2 before Kyoto target in 2012 (World Business Council for Sustainable Development 2009 report). According to the UNEP 2007:

“…significant gains can be made in efforts to combat global warming by reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency in buildings.”

There are number of ways that a building could affect its surrounding environment on its life time. During different stages; row materials, construction, operation and demolition, also, through different components, buildings could have a huge impact on the environment (UNEP 2007). For example: soil pollution, emissions into the air, water spills, waste generation, resource consumption, local impacts, impacts associated with transportation and effects on biodiversity (Gangolells M, et al., 2009). In addition to the previous environmental impacts, buildings affect people’s health directly. As (Theodore 1996— ) reported, there are a lot of health problems that could be linked to buildings directly especially to poor indoor quality i.e. the sick building syndrome.

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According to (UNEP 2007) it has long been established that to achieve an energy-efficient world, governments, businesses and individuals must transform the building sector. One of the approaches that have been adopted to address the building sector effects on the environment were developing programs to assess buildings performance. Environmental impact assessment programs (EIAP) for buildings were originally conceived as guidance to recognize best practice, promote green buildings and to provide a unified and coherent base for buildings to be compared on. Recent studies showed that EIAP have been a key factor in improving buildings design as well (pennenvironment pdf). This movement towards sustainable and green buildings has been growing rabidly since the second half of the 80s leading to the development of various methods for evaluating the environmental performance of buildings (Cole, Yudelson and Fedrizzi, 2008). The number of EIAP for buildings has increased significantly in the past two decades, as shown in Figure 2-2. From 4 programs in the 80s to more than 25 program now actively used worldwide. This increase in the number of EIAP for buildings or the revolution as Yudelson describe it, will likely continue over the next few years (Cole, —, Yudelson).

In countries all over the world -especially the developed countries- there is a growing interest in understanding how to reduce the building sector impacts on the environment. This is partially manifested in continues development of EIAP for buildings, either by introducing new assessment tools, or by developing and refining the existing ones. In recent years, the market for evaluating building performance was increasing, with clients demanding buildings that meet the highest efficiency standards and have minimum effects on the environment (U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), 2005).

The time line progress for the environmental programs

Environmental buildings or green buildings from the market point of view could potentially save money on energy bills, cut global warming pollution and help to secure future energy. Therefore there are growing demands for building classified as green or environmentally friendly. Another aspect that confirm the current success of EIAP for building is that a lot of conferences have been and still are held for the environmental impacts of buildings and the best way to develop and assess it (Cole, —-, Yudelson). EIAP are now considered a driving force to develop buildings industry.

EIAP were first conceived as a mean to quantify the success of a building in achieving reduced impacts on the environment during its life time. They were also developed to comply with standards from organizations like ANSI, ISO, ASHARE, ASTM and CEN. The structure and components of EIAP are always changing to cope with the latest editions in building standards. These changes include; categories of assessment, credits weighting, impacts calculation, cost efficiency and simulation techniques. EIAP assess buildings either on performance bases on prescriptive bases. They were initially developed as voluntary (cole,—) but with the higher demands from the market some programs are mandatory in some parts of the world now for example—-. Some organizations and local authorities now demand a certain qualification to be attained by the building in order to be authorized. For example —

EIAP were first designed to assess certain aspects of buildings mostly energy, water and material use. They were also firstly designed for certain types of buildings. New developments to EIAP for buildings included expanding the assessment categories to include every stage and component of a building during its life time. The new generations of programs are moving towards a more comprehensive view of assessment rather than it being for only one type of buildings or one aspect of building elements. New additions to BREAM 2008 and LEED 2009 included the introduction of new versions to assess new types of building (ref for Leed and bream websites). EIAP also assess buildings in different stages; designing, construction, operation and demolish. With number of these programs being in use for several years spotting the developments directions for EIAP for buildings could be recognized and analyzed.

In the first generation of EIAP like — and —, assessments were usually made by a qualified third party. In recent years web based assessment have been introduced, for example in —- and LEED V3 2009 (ref for Leed and bream websites). This came as a reaction to the market demand for an easy to use initial assessment. EIAP outcomes are a certificate grade (–,–), a report (—) or a —– to acknowledge the grade of a building in achieving its environmental targets. Recent additions to EIAP for building included the introduction of an outstanding rate for outstanding innovations in green building as in — in LEED and —-in BREAM (ref for Leed and bream websites). This comes as a result of the current need on the market for green buildings to achieve the highest— the huge competition.

The success of EIAP in reshaping the building industry is undeniable. In recent years, EIAP have been playing a big role in moving the building industry into a more environment conscious directions, as presented in (Cole, 2003):

“…..There is little doubt that building environmental assessment methods have contributed enormously to furthering the promotion of higher environmental expectations, and are directly and indirectly influencing the performance of buildings….”

This current success of EIAP for buildings is considered one of the —-in the world (usgreen building council). This success derives from the ability of these programs to offers a common ground for designers, governments and buildings owners, to assess building performance and be recognized for good practice.

This chapter will focus on certification programs that deal with evaluation and assessment of buildings to serve as a starting point in developing a specific program aimed at the Egyptian environment needs. From the author view

Types of Building Assessment Methods

EIAP for buildings could be divided to two types according to what they assess in a building. The first type assesses one or more of the building aspects to find out how it will affect the environment and how well the building’s elements will score against environmental standards, for example on energy efficiency or materials choice. Programs like R-2000 and ENERGY STAR assess mainly building energy efficiency (R-2000, 2007, ENERGY STAR, 2009). These types of assessment methods sometimes are specifically designed for a certain type of buildings like P-mark for prefabricated houses and GreenCalc for Dutch office buildings (Technical Research Institute of Sweden, 2009, GreenCalc, 2009). Also for some programs the assessment is done to only one stage of a building, for example ATHENA for design stage only and NovoClimat for after operation stage only (ATHENA, 2009, Natural Resources Canada, 2009). The assessed buildings either pass the assessment and given a certificate or a qualification grade, or fail to qualify and be given guidance on how to improve the assessed element of their building.

The second type of EIAP assesses building as a whole against a set of categories to find out the building total impacts on the environment. These types of programs always include a wide range of categories of assessment ranging from site design and energy efficiency to water usage and recycling management. They also cover different building types with specific consideration for each type, for example in BREEAM, LEEDS and HK-BEAM there are specific versions to assess homes, schools, retail and healthcare. These programs assess a building on different stages; design, construction, operation, maintenance and demolition stage in some programs. Usually a certificate or a qualification grade is awarded to the assessed building to define its standard. Table 2-1 presents EIAP that will be reviewed in this study.

Developed in Canada in 1982 the R-2000 is a voluntary program encouraging builders to build energy-efficient houses that are environmentally friendly and healthy. It includes an energy efficiency standard for new houses that is continuously updated. It also includes comprehensive training and education courses for builders. The R-2000 standard assesses energy consumption performance for a house through a series of technical requirements: (minimum envelope requirements, ventilation system requirements, combustion system requirements, energy performance target, lights and appliances, indoor air quality and environmental features/eco-management) (Natural resources Canada, 2009, R-2000, 2007). During the first few years of application the R-2000 program didn’t attract the anticipated Canadian building practice (Horvat et al., 2005, Adair, 1996), this was due to:

  • Copying R-2000 homes by uncertified builders that lead to a failure of real application of the program standards.
  • Being more expensive (6-10%) to build R-2000 home in comparison to regular building.

Being flexible is what helped the R-2000 (2005 edition) program stay in the current market and being able to be applied to any type of homes. Another advantage is producing homes with 30%-40% energy savings (R-2000, 2007, Horvat et al., 2005).

P-mark system (Sweden, 1989)

P-mark came as a reaction to the manufacturers of prefabricated houses in Sweden need for an assessment program that assures the market of the quality of their houses. P-mark is a voluntary program. It was developed for design and after construction stages. P-mark authorities use the method of unannounced inspections to assure quality control procedures after operation. 5% of the finished houses is inspected and measured annually. The inspections are on performance bases for the finished homes on air-tightness of the building envelope, air exchange rates, air-tightness of ducts, sound pressure levels and heat requirement, to verify compliance with P-mark requirements P-mark certificate is considered a form of quality assurance in Sweden (Technical Research Institute of Sweden, 2009, Horvat et al., 2005, Swedish Institute for Technical Approval in Construction SITAC, 2007, website)

One advantage to the application P-mark was that it has helped the Sweden market in reducing complaints from people about the failure of prefabricated homes (Anneling, 1998). The upgrades that have been made to the P-mark in recent years involved improving the assessment categories to include: 1) Testing for ventilation, air-tightness of houses and ventilation ducts, 2) Inspection for HVAC performance, water-tightness of the kitchen or toilet (Technical Research Institute of Sweden, 2009).

The Building Environmental Performance Assessment Criteria (BEPAC) is a voluntary EIAP specifically for commercial buildings. It assesses the building on five categories: energy use, indoor environment, ozone protection, resource conservation, and transportation. BEPAC was Canada’s first non-residential environmental assessment tool and has influenced a lot of the programs that followed for example: BREEAM Canada, GBTool, C-2000 and GreenGlobes. On its first version it used an experienced third party to undertake the assessment. As a reaction to concerns regarding the costs of using an expensive third party to carry out the assessment in BEPAC; the self-assessment version of BEPAC was developed. It allows facility staff to evaluate their own buildings. It contains a program for user training. This new addition has been criticized as the facility staff might be not experienced enough to carry out an assessment. BEBAC label consistency has been questioned and this led to the assessment not being used much in the Canadian market (SDIC, 2009, Marshall, 2008, DEH, 2000, Bond, 1999).

Eco-profile (Norway, 1995)

Eco-Profile is a simple environmental assessment method which was developed to be easy to use to encourage the uptake of the scheme. It assesses life cycle effects of a building on external environment, resources and indoor climate (Boonstra and Pettersen, 2003, Strand and Fossdal, 2003). The program uses 82 parameters to assess the building performance and then given a grade. The grading scale is: 1 for Low environmental impact, 2 for Medium impacts and 3 for Greater impact (Strand and Fossdal, 2003). Eco-Profile is not currently used in the Norwegian market. It has not been marketed since 2002 due to funding limitations with the Norwegian Building Research Institute. Even though more than 60 commercial buildings have been assessed by this program in 2000-2001 it is not considered a successful one as it didn’t continue, as presented in (Boonstra and Pettersen, 2003):

“…so far Eco-profile cannot be said to have been a success…”

Some of the suggested improvement for the program included simplifying the program by presenting one index instead of three and reducing the number of the assessed parameters. Another direction for improvement will have to include updating the weighting of parameters. (Boonstra and Pettersen, 2003, Strand and Fossdal, 2003)

(Andresen, 2005, Krishnan Gowri, 2004., Hasegawa, 2003, G. Assefa et al., 2007).

GreenCalc (The Netherlands, 1997)

GreenCalc is an assessment program for Dutch buildings especially commercial and industrial. It uses computer tool to calculate the building’s environmental load in terms of cost. It is divided into four modules: 1) material module: choice of materials, quantities and insulating values. 2) Energy module: energy consumption in operation phase (use of building, air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting. 3) Water usage: water consumption in the operation phase (facilities, sanitary facilities and rainwater). 4) Mobility: accessibility from home to work place; location, public transport and own transport. Assessment is performed in comparison to a benchmark building designed to 1990’s standards. The benchmark for environmental index for 1990’s building is 100 and current building is 150-300. The program predicts that buildings in 2050 will achieve environmental index of 2000 (Seo et al., 2005, GreenCalc, 2009).

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The latest version of the program GreenCalc+ has tried to cope with the highly developed market of green buildings. It included expanded simulation modeling with the designer being able to evaluate the effects of better insulation, glazing, efficient lighting systems, and solar energy systems as design options. It updated its energy consumption prediction method to be able to calculate the Energy Performance Norm option (GreenCalc, 2009).


ENERGY STAR is a program to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. It is operated by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy. It assesses products as well as buildings, for example; lighting fixtures, home electronics, office equipment, heating and cooling equipment. The building certificate is for residential (single/multi-family and renovated houses) and commercial buildings (ENERGY STAR, 2009, Horvat et al, 2005). Criticisms to ENERGY STAR buildings came from it being more expensive than other conventional buildings especially on design and material aspects. Studies proved that these costs are accepted because the building save on running costs (i.e., the HVAC system) (Tanmay Tathagat 2007, Horvat et al, 2005).

In recent development to the program and as a reaction to meet the escalating demands for energy savings, modifications have been applied to its minimum energy saving requirements. Initially in 2000 the ENERGY STAR label required a building to be at least 30% more energy efficient (heating, cooling and water heating) than a comparable one built to the 1993 Model Energy Code. Also the building should be 15% more efficient than the state energy code. New modification in 2007 demanded that a building must be at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code IRC (ENERGY STAR, 2009).

(Roosa, 2007, Greg K and Capital E, 2003).

(Yudelson and Fedrizzi, 2008b, Greg K and Capital E, 2003, ENERGY STAR, 2009). NovoClimat (Canada, Québec, 2000)

NovoClimat was initially conceived to allow Quebec builders to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. It was developed by the Quebec Agency for Energy Efficiency (Natural Resources Canada, 2009, Horvat et al., 2005). The assessment is done to the building in construction stage and after completion. A typical Novoclimat home will score EnerGuide rating of between 78 and 80 (http://www.ottawasnewesthomes.com/novoclimat-for-gatineau-new-homes.php, http://www.aee.gouv.qc.ca/en/my-home/novoclimat/). It is a voluntary program inspired by Canada’s National Model Energy Code. What makes this program different is the fact that it connects energy efficiency and air-tightness to the durability of the building envelope. The new Novoclimat 2007 aimed directly to quantify the effects it makes to a building, by setting a goal to improve a building’s energy performance by a minimum of 25% (Efficient Energy Agency, 2008, Natural Resources Canada, 2009).



(Salomon and Nigel, 2006, Robert C, 2003, Natural Resources Canada, 2009, Horvat et al., 2005). ATHENA (Canada, 2000)

Athena is North American software for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for buildings. It assesses industrial, institutional, office, multi-unit/single family residential homes and also assesses both new buildings and renovations to existing buildings. It is for design stage only to help in deciding which materials to use as it recognizes more than 90 materials and simulates over 1,200 different assembly combinations (structural and envelope). According to ATHENA institute 2009, this software takes into account the environmental effects of: material manufacturing, (including resource extraction and recycled content), related transportation, on-site construction, regional variation in energy use and other factors, building type and assumed lifespan, maintenance, repair and replacement effects, demolition and disposal, operating energy emissions and pre-combustion effects, embodied primary energy use, global warming potential, solid waste emissions, pollutants to air, pollutants to water and natural resource use. ATHENA (4) Impact Estimator, is the newest version of the program and was released in 2009. As most of the new generation of EIAP, ATHENA (4) newest edition included improving simulation modeling. The software will help designers choose a design from up to five design scenarios. It is also more flexible in handling data flows with more impact measures. Another new feature is the ability to choose new regions to assess (ATHENA, 2009).

Eco-Quantum (The Netherlands, 1998)

Eco-Quantum is a LCA based computer tool. It starts by entering building data, then the calculation section and finally the output results. It has two versions; one for offices and the other for domestic buildings. It calculates the environmental effects during the entire life span of a building. This includes the impact of energy, the maintenance during the use phase and the differences in the durability of parts of the construction related to the life span of the building. The program has an advantage of being easy to use. As a reaction to the evolving market for environmental assessment, Eco-Quantum V3 latest additives included improving assessment categories. Not only it assess materials and energy flow, it now also takes into account the possibility for selective demolition, recycling, ozone depletion, human toxicity and product reuse ((Kortman, 1999, Breedveld, 2007 Forsberga & Malmborgc , 2004, ISPRA, 2009). MAK refernce

BEAT (Denmark, 2001)

The Building Environmental Assessment Tool (BEAT) is a LCA based tool. BEAT is a relation database designed using Microsoft Access. The user must supply: type of building, estimated lifetime of the building, geometry of the building, number of floors above/below ground, roof pitch, number of windows in the building, % of facade area covered by windows and natural or mechanical ventilation. BEAT assessment is for design stage only. It can be used both for supporting the general design choices early in the design phase, and later for supporting the more detailed design choices. The total environmental effects are the sum of multiplying the environmental effect by a weighting factor.

Motivated by both the increased requirements to the energy performance of buildings and the recent developments for simulation tools for building assessment, the Danish Building Research Institute (SBi) is studying a project to develop BEAT. It is studying how to facilitate the use of BEAT by integrating it into new simulation software called BSim. This will allows both energy and environmental assessments to be performed in one operation. The new program is expected to be flexible in respect to the anticipated Canadian Environment Network (CEN) requirements. Early signs of the anticipated merge suggest that it is useful to support decision during design phase (Pedersen, F., Hansen, K., Wittchen, K. B., Grau, K., & Johnsen, K. (2008). Combining building thermal simulation methods and LCA methods. In C. Rode, Proceedings of the 8th Symposium on Building Physics in the Nordic Countries: Nordic Symposium on Building Physics 2008, NSB2008, Copenhagen, June 16-18, 2008, Vol. 2 (pp. 605-611). Lyngby: DTU.(The Danish Building Research Institute, 2007).

LCAid (Australia, 2001)

LCAid is the Environmental Life Cycle Assessment Design Aid software package developed by department of public works and services categories. It is to identify the largest impacts over the building life cycle. It is user friendly decision making tool used to evaluate the environmental performance of design options over its life span. The program inputs are: raw materials, building product manufacture, energy, and water. Outputs include: resource extraction, emissions to air, water, land and waste, demolition reuse, recycling and disposal. The software outputs identify the areas that have the greatest impact on the environment so it could be reduced by other solutions. LCAid improvements included to separates the environmental impacts within each indicator into four stages; construction, operation, maintenance and demolition (Eldridge, 2002, Graham, P. 2000).

Green Globes (Canada, 2000)

Green Globes is a system to manage the assessment of environmental designs. It is an online assessment for green buildings. The system requires the client (i.e. property manager, owners of commercial and multi-residential buildings) to complete an online confidential questionnaire at design stage. Another stage of the assessment is an online report from a third-party at the construction stage. The categories of assessment for green Globes are: site, energy, water, emissions and indoor environment. It was developed based on BREEAM/Green Leaf as their upgrade or as their web-based tool. It was much anticipated and there was an immediate uptake to it with more than 100 users registered for existing building assessments only in 2002. One of the reasons for the huge uptake could have been that the program was filling the gap for an online assessment method that is related to BREEAM. To be certified a building will have to achieve at least 35% of the total number of 1,000 points. New edition of Green Globes are in the line of developing the program to consider the building surrounding environment and not only the building itself. The new tool for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB) will look at aspects such as resident transportation opportunities (ECD, 2009, Boonstra & Pettersen, 2003, Green Globes (2009).

BEES (US, 2002)

Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) is a program to help making an environmental but cost effective building. BEES measures the life time effects of the building and its components. The categories of assessment are in terms of: Global warming, Acidification, Eutrophication, Resource Depletion, Indoor Air Quality, Solid Waste, First Cost and Future Cost. The software strength comes from the extensive assessment for economic performance of a building using the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard. It produces results for environmental performance and economic performance and an overall performance as shown in Figure 2-9. All stages of buildings construction are analyzed from the row material manufacture and transportation to the waste management. The program is constantly developing by adding assessment categories and new materials to the software database in order to keep up to date with the latest editions in the green designs. BEES 4.0 function to the newest data from U.S. EPA and have more than 200 building products in its database (BEES, 2007, Lippiatt, et.al., 2002).

Programs that assess the whole building.

BREEAM (UK, 1990)

The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), initiated as a tool for assessing the environmental performance of a building. BREEAM assessment is divided into 9 categories: Management, Health & Comfort, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Land Use, Ecology and Pollution. It was initially started as a questionnaire based tool. These questionnaires were designed for each stage of a building from design to post-operation. The actual credits were given to a building only on two stages: concept design stage and the preparation of construction stage. One criticism for BREEAM was that finished buildings sometimes differ from the design. This has been addressed in the latest version of BREEAM (2008) by introducing a post construction assessment. This assessment will ensure that all the specifications stated in the design are carried out in the actual building (BREEAM, 2009, BERR, 2008, Howe, 2008). Another criticism for BREEAM was that design teams used to copy whole paragraphs of the checklists provided by BREEAM and put it in the design specification to get the credits from the assessor. Also a lot of credits could have been obtained from number of very small additives to the design (for example parking sheds). These credits will help buildings in getting a high rating without necessarily being green as a whole. In BREEAM 2008 mandatory credits was introduced to address this problem. These credits will ensure a minimum application of a holistic view of green concept in the rated buildings. Also by making the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM or equivalent mandatory in April 2008, this will secure sustainable measures in larger developments (BREEAM, 2009, BERR, 2008, Howe, 2008, Glasson et al., 2005).

BREEAM initially didn’t include benchmarks for number of criteria; it used to make reference to them. This was designed to help BREEAM being flexible. In BREEAM 2008 a lot of credits have been expanded especially setting benchmarks for CO2 emissions to align with the new Environmental Performance Certificate (EPC). BREEAM assess new and existing building for deferent types of buildings: Courts, homes, Industrial buildings, Multi-Residential, Prisons, Offices, Retail and Education. Latest developments in BREEAM 2008 included expanding the assessed building types to include BREEAM Healthcare and BREEAM Further Education. As a reaction to the evolving market of green buildings and the urge to use the highest environmental developments in buildings industry; a new rating level (BREEAM outstanding) has been introduced in 2008. This will enable innovative designs to be recognized for being leaders in their domain (BREEAM, 2009).

HK-BEAM ( Hong Kong, 1996)

The Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method (HK-BEAM) is a voluntary environmental assessment program for buildings. It was originally developed by Real Estate Development Agency but it is owned now by BEAM Society. The program main assessment categories are: site, materials, energy, water, indoor environment and innovative aspects and its award classifications are Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. It was the first program to finalize its assessment only when the building is completed. HK-BEAM is updating periodically to keep up with the industry standards and regulations. New versions were released on 1999, 2003 and 2005. The latest version HK-BEAM 4/04 has a lot of modifications to respond to the developing market of green buildings. BEAM 2004 highlighted the increasing importance of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ); by making it necessary to obtain minimum credit for it in order to be eligible for a grade. The grade awarded is based on percentage of applicable credits gained both for IEQ and overall assessment. BEAM is considered a very successful assessment tool. Though being voluntary program, in 2003, over


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