Sustainable homes, or simply energy-efficient buildings?
Journal article, 2016
Environmental consideration within the Swedish construction sector can no longer be considered marginal. It is here discussed whether the same commitment is extended to facilitate deeper dimensions of sustainability in the provision of housing, beyond simply energy-efficient residential buildings? The paper presents the case of a multi-family ‘green’ residential area being developed in Göteborg, Sweden. An interview study with the seven housing developers building in the area provides primary empirical insights, further complemented by findings from a workshop with architects involved in the project. Conceptualizations of sustainability in housing are explored, based in discourses among these market actors. Issues identified in the inductive data analysis relate to the ambitions set and measures taken in new ‘green’ building, as well as market perceptions of housing standards, lifestyles and household configurations that are reproduced in the built environment. The paper shows that interpretations of sustainability in market-led housing development do not radically challenge the normative and resource intense contemporary ideals surrounding the urban home and that the realization of goals undertaken in the case of Kvillebäcken is generally dependent on economic considerations and market assessments. In conclusion, the paper emphasizes the need to formulate an integrative approach to more holistic sustainable residential environments.