Understanding technical possibilities in organizational practice – housing management in Sweden
Paper i proceeding, 2007

Today a variety of energy efficient technologies for residential buildings exist on the market e.g. low energy windows, heat reuse, insulation, zero energy technologies, etc. For water there exist both efficient technologies and alternative water treatment technologies e.g. … It is technically possible to reduce energy use down to more than one third of the average level of the year 2000, but environmental performance on buildings has not been changed since the 1980s (Nässén & Holmberg 2003). Managerial tools like EMS has been introduced since the 90s, but technical measures are still lacking. Why are technical measures lacking? Studies about environmental problems are mostly made from a technical-natural science or technical-systems science point of departure, looking for optimal technical or systems solutions. Some work with a social science point of departure do exist, e.g. management studies about the effects of environmental management systems solutions (Ammenberg 2003) or technical-economic studies finding a research paradox (Nässén 2005). Knowing about optimal technical solutions or environmental management systems solutions apparently is not enough, given the examples above. How are organising connected to the natural environment? Within the PhD-project the environmental performance of buildings were studied in an organisational context. The project includes comparative case studies of several ‘County governor style’ buildings and studies the change of organisational management practices and buildings environmental performance the over time. Observations on energy and water use show over 30% differences in average data and variation data over a period of 10 years. Differences in average data could be explained by renovation routines e.g. flexible renovation in favour of the building gave environmentally better result than periodical renovation measures. Differences in variation data over time could be explained by operation routines e.g. continuous operational measures gave environmentally better result than emergency operational measures. Analysis regarding operation and renovation indicates that organisational behaviour has an effect on environmental performance of buildings. In order to undertake environmental studies of an organisation a new systems method has been developed including LCA, organisational actions, and time. The research using environmental systems methods to study management practices shows that it is possible to get a better understanding of organisational behaviour connected to the natural environment. Knowing about technical possibilities is not enough. Understanding of practical possibilities in organisations is needed.

environmental management



environmental systems study

property sector

environmental performance



organizational behavior



Birgit Brunklaus

Institutionen för miljösystemanalys

Chalmers, Energi och miljö

LCM conference, 27-29 August 2007, Zürich


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