What you see is not what you get: Single-family house renovation and energy retrofit seen through the lens of sociomateriality
Journal article, 2017

Representing 30% of the energy consumption in Sweden, the built environment is a clear contender for climate mitigation initiatives. The substantial stock of single-family houses presents ample opportunities to engage in energy-saving refurbishments. However, despite political pressure, only a minority of these refurbishments includes low-energy retrofit. To explain this slow take-off, studies have mostly focused on the necessity to better link new technical solutions with user needs and behaviours. We propose to extend this analysis to a broader set of actors including the craftsmen contracted to carry out the refurbishments and the houses themselves with their specific features and characteristics. To do so, we build our contribution on the concept of sociomateriality. This perspective argues that technological artefacts are socially constructed, but recognizes that materiality also has a role to play. Drawing on the experiences of 24 small craftsman firms, 8 houses as well as their owners, our method comprises interviews, workshops and participant observation complemented by an in-depth case study. The results show many differentiated representations of the renovation process under scrutiny. All these representations need to be understood and to a certain degree aligned in order to achieve successful retrofits.

Energy renovation


single-family house owners



Martine Buser

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Construction Management

Veronica Carlsson

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Construction Management

Construction Management and Economics

0144-6193 (ISSN) 1466-433X (eISSN)

Vol. 35 5 276-287

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)


Subject Categories

Construction Management



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