Demonstration Projects for Sustainable Building – What’s in them for utility?
Other conference contribution, 2005

Demonstration projects have a key role in promoting and developing sustainable building practices. Demonstration projects show what sustainable building is and how this can be achieved. Furthermore, they are attributed the role of preparing the ground for up-scaling and mainstreaming towards more sustainable building. However, recent and also older demonstration projects for sustainable building in Sweden have despite good results so far not had any large influence on mainstream building practices. This can on the one hand be attributed to the organization of demonstration projects. Many demonstration projects lack of documentation, evaluation and dissemination of results and thus fail to provide reliable and useful information. Actors engaged in demonstration projects can lack of incentives to spread results. This is observed especially in case of negative results but in some cases actors also lack of incentives to spread good results. On the other hand the lack of influence can be attributed to institutional, social and economical factors impeding learning and development in the building sector. The influence is in some cases limited as demonstration projects do not always address actors in the building sector or the public due to cultural and esthetical preferences. In addition, the adoption process is hindered as demonstration projects are often connected to extra input from involved actors such as finance, time and expert support that are not part of the ‘normal’ building and design processes. The aim for this paper is to contribute to the definition of the concept demonstration project and to discuss factors that will influence, hinder or support, the continued replication of technique and concepts used in successful demonstration projects among involved actors but also the external influence outside the involved project organisation. The paper will provide guidance for the enhanced outcome and usability of future demonstration projects The paper is based on findings from a research project studying demonstration projects for sustainable housing in Sweden and the Netherlands, carried out 1998 – 2003 and on tentative findings from an on-going research project in Sweden called ‘Demonstration projects as an arena for implementing and developing sustainable building’. The discussions also reflect findings from earlier research on demonstration projects found in the literature. The methods used are qualitative case studies and a theoretical framework has been created from mainly design and innovation research. The paper addresses decision-makers at all levels in the building and design processes, mainly clients, architects and other consultants but also decisionmakers in other kinds of organisations interested in promoting sustainable building through demonstration projects.

demonastration projects

sustainable building


Paula Femenias

Chalmers, Architecture

In Proceedings from Sustainable Built Environments: SBE2005, Pretoria June 22 – 24, 2005


Subject Categories

Civil Engineering

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