Topic Editors

School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
UniSA Online, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia

Sustainability, Challenges and Opportunities to Optimizing Building Performance

Abstract submission deadline
31 May 2024
Manuscript submission deadline
31 August 2024
Viewed by
15439

Topic Information

Dear Colleagues,

Applying sustainable principles and state-of-the-art environmental technologies is essential to optimising building performance while minimising problematic environmental impact. This Topic aims to acknowledge original experimental work undertaken to apply sustainable principles and innovative environmental technologies to improve building performance. It intends to showcase innovative possibilities for both existing and new projects. In alignment with this theme is the desire to explore affordable strategies.  

The energy used in the building sector accounts for 40% of all our energy use. While several environment sustainability rating systems for new buildings have been developed, only a tiny proportion of predicted energy savings have been realised in practice. This is due to a large number of factors, ranging from inefficient and wasteful procurement to poor user interface with installed indoor environmental technologies. The potential to make buildings net zero carbon emitters, energy efficient, and sustainable is already with us. However, the question remains: what innovations should we adopt, how should they be applied, and what outcomes can they deliver?

In this Topic, we seek to identify solutions for delivering high-performing, environmentally friendly, affordable buildings. The objective here is to showcase state-of-the-art environmental sustainability principles, renewable energy systems, innovative systems to enhance indoor environmental quality, construction retrofits, new sensor technologies, optimised control strategies, and more.

We welcome and look forward to your contributions.

Dr. Igor Martek
Dr. Mehdi Amirkhani
Topic Editors

Keywords

  • sustainable principles
  • retrofitting
  • renewable energy
  • innovative technology
  • indoor environmental quality
  • new materials and construction

Participating Journals

Journal Name Impact Factor CiteScore Launched Year First Decision (median) APC
Buildings
buildings
3.8 3.1 2011 14.6 Days CHF 2600 Submit
Designs
designs
- 3.2 2017 16.4 Days CHF 1600 Submit
Energies
energies
3.2 5.5 2008 16.1 Days CHF 2600 Submit
Sensors
sensors
3.9 6.8 2001 17 Days CHF 2600 Submit
Sustainability
sustainability
3.9 5.8 2009 18.8 Days CHF 2400 Submit

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Published Papers (13 papers)

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19 pages, 7820 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Techno-Eco-Efficiency of Waste Clay Brick Powder (WCBP) in Geopolymer Binders
by Shaila Sharmin, Wahidul K. Biswas and Prabir K. Sarker
Buildings 2024, 14(3), 692; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14030692 - 05 Mar 2024
Viewed by 923
Abstract
The global focus on geopolymer binder production has increased due to the adoption of waste materials and industrial byproducts. Given the gradual decline in the availability of fly ash and ground granular blast furnace slag (GGBFS) resulting from the decarbonization process in electricity [...] Read more.
The global focus on geopolymer binder production has increased due to the adoption of waste materials and industrial byproducts. Given the gradual decline in the availability of fly ash and ground granular blast furnace slag (GGBFS) resulting from the decarbonization process in electricity and steel production, waste clay brick powder (WCBP) could be a viable substitute for these pozzolanic by-products. This study presents the economic and environmental benefits of the use of WCBP as a replacement for conventional pozzolanic by-products in geopolymer binder production by assessing its techno-eco-efficiency, environmental impact, and cost-effectiveness performances. The favorable mechanical characteristics exhibited by the fly ash–GGBFS–WCBP-based geopolymer binder emphasize the importance of assessing its sustainability alongside its technical viability. The study employed life cycle analysis (LCA), following ISO framework, and using the Simapro software 9.2, to evaluate the environmental implications of the use of WCBP-based geopolymer mixtures. Human toxicity emerged as the primary impact. Moreover, the analysis of life cycle costs highlighted key financial factors, with around 65–70% attributed to alkaline activators of the total cost. The production of alkaline activators was identified as a critical point for both environmental impact and economic considerations due to energy consumption. While WCBP-rich samples exhibit a 1.7–0.7% higher environmental impact compared to the control mix (CM), their high mechanical strength and cost-effectiveness make them technologically and economically efficient geopolymer mixes. In conclusion, the portfolio analysis for techno-eco-efficiency affirms that mixes containing 40%, 30%, and 20% WCBP are more efficient than those using 10% and 0% WCBP, respectively. Full article
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19 pages, 6326 KiB  
Article
Aesthetic and Thermal Suitability of Highly Glazed Spaces with Interior Roller Blinds in Najran University Buildings, Saudi Arabia
by Abdultawab M. Qahtan
Sustainability 2024, 16(5), 2030; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16052030 - 29 Feb 2024
Viewed by 455
Abstract
Highly glazed spaces are visually appealing and trendy, but effectively managing their temperature in hot arid climates remains a significant challenge. This study evaluates the effectiveness of dark-tinted double low-E glass with internal roller blinds in reducing heat gain in glazed spaces in [...] Read more.
Highly glazed spaces are visually appealing and trendy, but effectively managing their temperature in hot arid climates remains a significant challenge. This study evaluates the effectiveness of dark-tinted double low-E glass with internal roller blinds in reducing heat gain in glazed spaces in hot arid climates and investigates architects’ perspectives on these facades. It combines field measurements and a survey to assess the balance between thermal control and aesthetics in such environments. This study reveals that the current glazing significantly attenuates solar radiation ingress, evidenced by a marked indoor-–outdoor temperature differential (ΔT) of approximately 9.2 °C. The mean radiant temperature registers at 1.5 °C above the indoor air temperature, which can be attributed to the glazing’s propensity to absorb and retain solar heat, resulting in an inner glass surface temperature of 43 °C. The implementation of adjustable blinds has a dynamic influence on the heat transfer coefficient (HTC), effectively modulating the temperature by impeding natural convection currents. With the blinds retracted, the HTC stands at an average of 7.1 W/m2K, which diminishes to 5 W/m2K when the blinds are 50% closed and further reduces to 4.2 W/m2K when the blinds are fully closed (100%). Survey results suggest that architects prioritise glazed facades for aesthetics (52%) while facing challenges in thermal and energy efficiency (44%). Future studies should concentrate on developing novel glazing systems that integrate solutions for visual appeal, lighting and thermal efficiency in glazed facades, particularly in hot arid climates. Full article
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23 pages, 6163 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Households’ Perceptions of Health Co-Benefits in Relation to the Willingness to Undertake Energy Retrofits in Barcelona
by Carlos Benites-Aguilar and Carlos Marmolejo-Duarte
Buildings 2024, 14(1), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14010236 - 15 Jan 2024
Viewed by 614
Abstract
Energy retrofits have, so far, been studied from the perspective of economic benefits that undertaking energy retrofit brings. They have also been of interest in the pursuit of reducing carbon emissions. However, few have studied the perception of health co-benefits of energy retrofits. [...] Read more.
Energy retrofits have, so far, been studied from the perspective of economic benefits that undertaking energy retrofit brings. They have also been of interest in the pursuit of reducing carbon emissions. However, few have studied the perception of health co-benefits of energy retrofits. Therefore, this paper seeks to shed light on how the residents’ perception of their health affects their decision to undertake an energetic retrofit. The focus of this article is to determine how residents perceive their health and their willingness to undertake energy retrofits to improve their health in the municipality of Barcelona. The methods used were in-depth interviews with experts and face-to-face and surveys conducted online. The results were analysed using descriptive, segmental, and unconditional logistic regression. We also analysed if awareness of the health co-benefits of retrofits corresponded with the respondent’s housing conditions, socio-demographics, and willingness to energy retrofit their homes. A total of 127 participants were included, of which 6.3% listed health co-benefit improvements as an influencing factor in undertaking an energy retrofit. The survey findings show that the less educated households are less aware of the health co-benefits of energy retrofits. These findings reveal the need to re-evaluate the current energy and housing policies. Full article
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14 pages, 5179 KiB  
Article
A Method to Compute Shadow Geometry in Open Building Information Modeling Authoring Tools: Automation of Solar Regulation Checking
by Charles Voivret, Dimitri Bigot and Garry Rivière
Buildings 2023, 13(12), 3120; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13123120 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 636
Abstract
Building solar protection regulations is essential to save energy in hot climates. The protection performance is assessed using a shading factor computation that models the sky irradiance and the geometry of shadow obstructing the surface of interest. While Building Information Modeling is nowadays [...] Read more.
Building solar protection regulations is essential to save energy in hot climates. The protection performance is assessed using a shading factor computation that models the sky irradiance and the geometry of shadow obstructing the surface of interest. While Building Information Modeling is nowadays a standard approach for practitioners, computing shadow geometry in BIM authoring tools is natively impossible. Methods to compute shadow geometry exist but are out of reach for the usual BIM authoring tool user because of algorithm complexity and non-friendly BIM implementation platform. This study presents a novel approach, dubbed solid clipping, to calculate shadow geometry accurately in a BIM authoring tool. The aim is to enhance project delivery by enabling solar control verification. This method is based on typical Computer Aided Design (CAD) in BIM authoring tools. The method is generic enough to be implemented using any BIM authoring tool’s visual and textual API. This work demonstrates that a thermal regulation, here the French overseas one, can be checked concerning solar protection, thanks to a BIM model. Beyond automation, this paper shows that, by directly leveraging the BIM model, designs presently not feasible by the usual process can be studied and checked. Full article
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24 pages, 2534 KiB  
Article
Indoor Environmental Quality Assessment of Train Cabins and Passenger Waiting Areas: A Case Study of Nigeria
by John Omomoluwa Ogundiran, Jean-Paul Kapuya Bulaba Nyembwe, Anabela Salgueiro Narciso Ribeiro and Manuel Gameiro da Silva
Sustainability 2023, 15(23), 16533; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152316533 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 814
Abstract
The adequacy of the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in mass transit microenvironments is crucial to the well-being of exposed commuters. By 2050, many developing tropical countries will host even more megacities, which will feature an increase in people mobility and higher occupancy density. [...] Read more.
The adequacy of the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in mass transit microenvironments is crucial to the well-being of exposed commuters. By 2050, many developing tropical countries will host even more megacities, which will feature an increase in people mobility and higher occupancy density. The paucity of IEQ studies, the technology gap, and inadequate policy measures to assure safer and sustainable mobility in many developing tropics have reinforced the current study objective. Also, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the IEQ links and risks to health in transport, which, given the climate peculiarities, transport reforms, and huge commuter traffic in Nigeria, inform the study motivation. The indoor air quality (CO2, PM, VOCs, NO2), thermal, acoustic, and visual environments were objectively assessed in train passenger cabins and waiting areas, during 15 trips in the dry and rainy seasons in Nigeria. The results were analyzed by following the IEQ requirements defined in the ISO, CEN, ASHRAE, and SAE standards. The results indicate gaps in the IAQ (inadequate ventilation in 9 trains), defective thermal comfort (9 trains), exceedance in the PM limit (PM10: 47.9–115 μg/m3, PM2.5: 22.5–51.3 μg/m3), noise (Leq range: 64–85 dBA), and low illuminance levels (10 trains), hence the need for IEQ, interventions, stakeholder awareness, and broader IEQ studies on transport cabins in these regions. Full article
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35 pages, 13463 KiB  
Article
Mitigating Overheating Risks for Modern Flats in London Due to Climate Change
by Mansi Jariwala and Ahmad Taki
Designs 2023, 7(6), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/designs7060124 - 28 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1633
Abstract
With the increase in global temperatures, a significant threat of overheating has been reported due to more frequent and severe heatwaves in the UK housing stock. This research analyzes dwellings’ physical attributes through overheating assessments and their adaptation for modern flats in London [...] Read more.
With the increase in global temperatures, a significant threat of overheating has been reported due to more frequent and severe heatwaves in the UK housing stock. This research analyzes dwellings’ physical attributes through overheating assessments and their adaptation for modern flats in London in the current (2022) and anticipated (2050) weather. According to preliminary research, Southeast and London in England, mid-terraced, and flats (especially built post 2012), among other archetypes, were discovered to be the most susceptible to overheating in the UK. This study employed a case study of a 2015 modern flat located in a high-risk overheating zone in London to understand the building’s overheating exposure. A range of Dynamic Thermal Simulations (DTS) was conducted using EnergyPlus with reference to case studies in order to assess the performance of passive cooling mitigation strategies (PCMS) on peak summer days (15 July) as well as during the summer against CIBSE Guide A and ASHARE 55. Reduced window area and LoE triple glazing were identified as excellent mitigation prototypes, in which solar gains through exterior glazing were reduced by 85.5% due to triple glazing. Zone sensible cooling was reduced by 52%, which minimized CO2 emissions. It was also identified that the final retrofit model passed CIBSE Guide A by achieving a temperature threshold of 20 °C to 25 °C during the summer months, whereas it failed to accomplish the ASHARE 55 criteria (20–24 °C). The outcome of this study justifies the necessity of tested PCMS and advises UK policymakers on how to foster resilient housing plans to overcome overheating issues. Full article
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27 pages, 14168 KiB  
Article
Multi-Objective Decision-Making Tool for Envelope Energy Retrofitting Measures of Gated Community Housing in Egypt
by Sarah Ahmad Algohary, Ayman Mahmoud and Manal Yehya
Designs 2023, 7(6), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/designs7060123 - 27 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1218
Abstract
Due to climate change, Egypt has recently suffered from recurring electricity crises. Despite efforts made to increase electricity production in Egypt, recently, in the summer months, the energy demand has increased at unprecedented rates, especially in the housing sector. Therefore, the government and [...] Read more.
Due to climate change, Egypt has recently suffered from recurring electricity crises. Despite efforts made to increase electricity production in Egypt, recently, in the summer months, the energy demand has increased at unprecedented rates, especially in the housing sector. Therefore, the government and homeowners should work together to improve the energy performance of residential buildings. This paper aimed to develop a decision-making tool that helps homeowners choose optimal energy retrofit measures that suit their priorities. The study began with the data-collection and case study selection. Then, the thermal evaluation of the base case for dwellings in the case study was conducted through simulation runs using the DesignBuilder v7.1 software. Then, the optimal envelope energy retrofitting measures were determined, followed by a retrofitting-measure scenario simulation process. Then, the payback periods were calculated for all scenarios, and the tool database was developed using an Excel spreadsheet. Finally, the user interface for envelope energy retrofitting measures for gated communities (EERMGCs) tool was designed by Visual Basic for Applications. EERMGCs, the tool developed in this paper, is a simple, multi-objective and interactive tool that provides the optimal envelope retrofit measures according to user priorities, either a specific budget, the shortest payback period, the lowest possible costs, or the highest energy saving rate. The outcome of this research is developing a framework that can be considered a basis for developing decision-making tools for gated community housing in Egypt. Full article
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18 pages, 511 KiB  
Article
Building Information Modeling Technology Capabilities: Operationalizing the Multidimensional Construct
by Haiyun Cao and Minghao Huang
Sustainability 2023, 15(20), 14755; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152014755 - 11 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 806
Abstract
The identification and leverage of the Building Information Model (BIM) technology are at the core of the successful digital transformation of the construction industry. However, due to its ability to integrate with various digital technologies and platforms, facilitating the digital and sustainable construction [...] Read more.
The identification and leverage of the Building Information Model (BIM) technology are at the core of the successful digital transformation of the construction industry. However, due to its ability to integrate with various digital technologies and platforms, facilitating the digital and sustainable construction of the entire lifecycle of a building, BIM technology cannot be simply defined and operationalized with a single dimension of the construct. Based on the importance of multidimensional structures called for in the viewpoint of existing research and the resource-based view, we develop a second-order construct model to measure BIM technology capabilities. We define and operationalize the BIM technology capabilities, based on theory, as a reflective–reflective higher-order construct by developing and validating a 17-item scale that captures three first-order constructs. The measurement model results show strong reliability, dimensionality of the first-order measurement model, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. The multidimensional structure and instrument provide researchers with an opportunity to test the theories about the antecedents and outcomes of BIM technology capabilities, as well as the process and conditions. Full article
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11 pages, 1253 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Construction through the Lens of Neoliberal Governance: The Case of Vernacular Building Systems in Catalonia, Spain
by Mónica Alcindor and Delton Jackson
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13812; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151813812 - 16 Sep 2023
Viewed by 898
Abstract
This paper asserts that neoliberal forms of governance are increasingly found in construction systems in Spain, a fact which becomes especially problematic when considering vernacular construction systems. Technological management and policy are both becoming more focussed on the promotion and consolidation of ‘expert [...] Read more.
This paper asserts that neoliberal forms of governance are increasingly found in construction systems in Spain, a fact which becomes especially problematic when considering vernacular construction systems. Technological management and policy are both becoming more focussed on the promotion and consolidation of ‘expert systems’ at the expense of ‘different’ (and in particular) vernacular systems, which are processes which influence minds, and fundamentally shape subsequent actions. This paper adopts an ethnographic approach, undertaking investigation into the complexity of commonly found building systems, based upon empirical evidence gathered in the region of Catalonia. Focussing research on local vernacular construction systems reveals the extent to which the operation of distinct sets of managing ‘technologies’—embedded in specific practices such as auditing—becomes instrumental in shaping local construction practices. Currently, locally distinctive practices are deeply impacted by social influences generated far away, which have the consequences of significantly influencing, diluting, or even erasing vernacular building systems, even where these represent an important source of sustainable building techniques. Full article
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21 pages, 3842 KiB  
Article
Transformers for Energy Forecast
by Hugo S. Oliveira and Helder P. Oliveira
Sensors 2023, 23(15), 6840; https://doi.org/10.3390/s23156840 - 01 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1280
Abstract
Forecasting energy consumption models allow for improvements in building performance and reduce energy consumption. Energy efficiency has become a pressing concern in recent years due to the increasing energy demand and concerns over climate change. This paper addresses the energy consumption forecast as [...] Read more.
Forecasting energy consumption models allow for improvements in building performance and reduce energy consumption. Energy efficiency has become a pressing concern in recent years due to the increasing energy demand and concerns over climate change. This paper addresses the energy consumption forecast as a crucial ingredient in the technology to optimize building system operations and identifies energy efficiency upgrades. The work proposes a modified multi-head transformer model focused on multi-variable time series through a learnable weighting feature attention matrix to combine all input variables and forecast building energy consumption properly. The proposed multivariate transformer-based model is compared with two other recurrent neural network models, showing a robust performance while exhibiting a lower mean absolute percentage error. Overall, this paper highlights the superior performance of the modified transformer-based model for the energy consumption forecast in a multivariate step, allowing it to be incorporated in future forecasting tasks, allowing for the tracing of future energy consumption scenarios according to the current building usage, playing a significant role in creating a more sustainable and energy-efficient building usage. Full article
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31 pages, 13660 KiB  
Article
Building Information Modeling and Building Performance Simulation-Based Decision Support Systems for Improved Built Heritage Operation
by Angelo Massafra, Carlo Costantino, Giorgia Predari and Riccardo Gulli
Sustainability 2023, 15(14), 11240; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151411240 - 19 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2117
Abstract
Adapting outdated building stocks’ operations to meet current environmental and economic demands poses significant challenges that, to be faced, require a shift toward digitalization in the architecture, engineering, construction, and operation sectors. Digital tools capable of acquiring, structuring, sharing, processing, and visualizing built [...] Read more.
Adapting outdated building stocks’ operations to meet current environmental and economic demands poses significant challenges that, to be faced, require a shift toward digitalization in the architecture, engineering, construction, and operation sectors. Digital tools capable of acquiring, structuring, sharing, processing, and visualizing built assets’ data in the form of knowledge need to be conceptualized and developed to inform asset managers in decision-making and strategic planning. This paper explores how building information modeling and building performance simulation technologies can be integrated into digital decision support systems (DSS) to make building data accessible and usable by non-digital expert operators through user-friendly services. The method followed to develop the digital DSS is illustrated and then demonstrated with a simulation-based application conducted on the heritage case study of the Faculty of Engineering in Bologna, Italy. The analysis allows insights into the building’s energy performance at the space and hour scale and explores its relationship with the planned occupancy through a data visualization approach. In addition, the conceptualization of the DSS within a digital twin vision lays the foundations for future extensions to other technologies and data, including, for example, live sensor measurements, occupant feedback, and forecasting algorithms. Full article
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16 pages, 6492 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Load-Bearing Capacity for Reinforced Concrete Foundation Retrofitted Using Steel Strut–Tie Retrofit System
by Jiuk Shin and Kihak Lee
Sustainability 2023, 15(13), 10372; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151310372 - 30 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1232
Abstract
To reduce the thickness of reinforced concrete foundation members used in construction and structural applications, a previous study developed and tested a strut–tie retrofit system installed in the foundations. This study proposes the optimum retrofit details of a steel-tie retrofit system for foundation [...] Read more.
To reduce the thickness of reinforced concrete foundation members used in construction and structural applications, a previous study developed and tested a strut–tie retrofit system installed in the foundations. This study proposes the optimum retrofit details of a steel-tie retrofit system for foundation members with reduced thickness via a finite element simulation-based load-bearing capacity assessment. The retrofit parameters (structural steel type, plate thickness, and number of strut frames) that significantly affected the load-bearing capacities were optimized by comparing the maximum effective stress and code-defined allowable stress limits. The optimum retrofit details were compared with those computed using a code-defined strut–tie model. Based on the load-bearing capacity assessment for the design of loading combinations, the optimum retrofit details can be reduced in transverse (by 55%) and longitudinal (by 87%) directions compared with those designed using the strut–tie model approach. Full article
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17 pages, 1099 KiB  
Systematic Review
Transboundary Fisheries Management in Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA): Prospects and Dilemmas
by Imikendu Imbwae, Shankar Aswani, Warwick Sauer and Clinton Hay
Sustainability 2023, 15(5), 4406; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15054406 - 01 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1552
Abstract
Inland fisheries in the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) offer food security to the riverine communities across the region. They also contribute towards the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 15, which aim to alleviate poverty and maintain biodiversity [...] Read more.
Inland fisheries in the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) offer food security to the riverine communities across the region. They also contribute towards the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 15, which aim to alleviate poverty and maintain biodiversity conservation. Despite this significant role, the fisheries have suffered severe declines in the previous decades due to multiple factors, such as overfishing and poor legislation. Furthermore, climate change is exerting pressure by altering the ecology and productivity of the river systems. The unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have further constrained management efforts. Attempts to address these challenges have pointed towards transboundary fisheries management as a silver bullet in moving towards sustainable fisheries management. However, the implementation of this strategy in the region has encountered numerous roadblocks, thereby subjecting the river ecosystem to a wider environmental threat, with dire consequences on livelihoods. This paper reviews existing management and governance structures together with key informant interviews to elicit primary and secondary data essential for management at the regional level. The study identifies conflicting regulations, and inadequate policies and institutions across the region as major bottlenecks affecting the successful implementation of transboundary fisheries management. Finally, the paper offers some suggestions for the improvement of fisheries management in the region. Full article
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