Sustainable Housing Transformations: The Housing Association as a Change Agent for Environmental Innovation and Social Regeneration – Two case studies
Conference contribution, 2009
The starting point for this study is the central role of the housing association in sustainable transformations of existing post-war housing stocks in Europe. The paper explores the role of the housing association to drive and support transformation processes where the aim is to address both environmental and social issues. Based on a literature review and on two case studies of early market actors, one in the Netherlands and one in Sweden, the paper discusses the role of housing associations as change agents as well as clients for sustainable housing transformations, and how they manages to combine their public tasks and responsibilities and their professional market activities in those projects.
The literature review shows that few qualitative studies have been carried out and little is still known about the internal organisation of housing associations and what constitutes their behaviour related to sustainable housing transformations. Some quantitative studies point to predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors constituting the innovative behaviour of housing associations towards environmental and in some cases social issues, which are also confirmed by our cases. However, these studies do not unveil the responsive factors or strategies used by the housing associations to handle their challenges. Our case studies show that an engaged manager, a decentralised structure, financial subsidies and external technical expertise is necessary for their work with sustainable housing transformations. Process innovation related to procurement seems to have an important role in the responsive strategies. The environmental and the social retrofitting processes have been found connected and the main motivation for energy upgrading of the housing are social issues.