Accepting the Challenge: Interpretation and Implementation of Sustainable Building in the Swedish and the Dutch Building Sectors
Conference contribution, 2002
This paper presents an interview study with 27 actors in the Swedish and the Dutch building sector (architects, clients, and environmental consultants) conducted in 2001-2002. The study show how these actors have interpreted, assimilated, and rendered meaning to the issue of sustainable building through their daily work. Results show that sustainable building is on its way to becoming a known and used concept but still on a low level and mainly individual interpretations. The respondents emphasizes on other than merely environmental issues in the concept of sustainable building. Several Swedish respondents focus on social aspects and small scale local solutions. Dutch respondents reflect a more unified image in which official guidelines are more present than their Swedish colleagues. Social issues are less reflected and, instead, building issues are addressed. In the Netherlands, there are indications that an already established idea of sustainable building can come into conflict with personal ideals of sustainable building, such as health and comfort. The paper show that there is a risk on the one hand that the interpretation is too narrow excluding initiatives on a broad level, on the other hand there are tendencies that the concept is widening and thus a risk that the concept is watered out. The paper presents support and obstacles to sustainable building on three levels: society, the building sector and the building project. The respondents put forward built examples (demonstration projects) as one main support to sustainable building. Other main support is political support (on a national and a local level), tax incentives/regulation, energy/water prices, information, guidelines, tools, cooperation, and education. An economic regression is by several respondents seen as supportive as this stimulates creativity. Several respondents would prefer stronger building codes. In Sweden, conservatism, opposing forces, power structures and structural problems in the building sector are seen as major obstacles.