How sustainability professionals navigate in the sea of sustainability
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2020
Increasing demands on environmental sustainability have forced the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry to act for change. Research indicates that technology solutions are seldom the problem; rather it is organizational difficulties in changing institutionalized practices that constitutes the main barriers for a successful shift towards environmental sustainability. In the centre of this change, we find a new type of actor, the sustainability professional, that is responsible for bringing environmental practice into existing construction practices. However, little is known of how these actors maintain agency to establish and withstand a strong environmental practice, which is the focus and aim of this paper. The context studied is the Swedish AEC industry, which is an institutional setting defined by inter-professional collaboration and multiple logics. 30 semi-structured interviews with sustainability professionals was conducted. By applying the theoretical lens of institutional logics, the findings show how their everyday work is a mix of five situations, which can be thought of as a sea that these professionals must navigate in to maintain their agency. To do so, they develop hybrid logics depending on type of work as they mediate between an environmental management logic and a construction management logic. By filling a gap in research this paper contributes with practical knowledge on how sustainability professionals can shape and speed up the transition to sustainable building by highlighting the complexity of their role and the challenges they face in their everyday work life.