Managing transition towards energy efficient housing at the local level

Maj-Britt Quitzau, Birgitte Hoffmann, Morten Elle

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    The energy standards of housing are currently locked-in, since a deadlock persists in terms of supply and demand of energy efficient housing in the building sector. Although incremental escalation of energy standards of buildings are taking place, especially through tightening of building regulation in several European countries, the general picture remains that existing regimes in the building sector are withheld and that little innovation in terms of new radical energy efficient solutions is taking place. In order to dissolve such a deadlock in the building sector, there is a need to target a wider number of systemic factors at different levels of society, as argued in transition theory, in order to overcome the co-evolving barriers for diffusing energy efficient housing at a more radical and larger scale. The aim of the paper is to look into the formulation of local policies that have the capability to coordinate and facilitate this complex transition process. The local scale of policy-formulation has been chosen in this paper in order to describe transition processes from the perspective of practitioners, who are hands on the specific building projects. The local scale provides an in-depth study of how specific practitioners, such as local planning authorities, building firms, building developers, technical experts and suppliers, interact and coordinate their efforts in the local arena of a specific building project (within a more general framework). The focus on the local scale allows a theoretical discussion of the significance that the interplay of practices in real time has for conditions for managing transition processes. The study is based on a specific case study, where the Danish municipality of Egedal has engaged in a process of managing a transition towards more energy efficient housing in a new urban development area. This initiative is just one example of a new wave of initiatives among Danish municipalities, who make serious efforts to mobilise local stakeholders to implement energy efficient technologies through new forms of strategic planning practices. The study describes the framework in which the different actors manoeuvre, and how the initiatives of the local planning authority impacts the coordination and catalysing of more or less radical changes in the specific building projects in the area. Through this case study, the transition management strategies of the local planning authority, and the challenges encountered through the facilitation process are laid out and discussed. An international perspective is added to the discussion based on similar cases of initiatives of local planning authorities in Italy, France, Estonia and Romania. The paper shows that local planning authorities may play an important role in managing the transition towards more radical energy efficient housing standards, and lays out some of the challenges in terms of necessary competences among these authorities in order to manage such processes successfully. The paper also argues for the need to consider transition processes specifically at the level of practitioners, since the local framework and patterns of interaction among local stakeholders is shown to play an important role for the conditions for transition management.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication-
    Publication date2010
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    EventPracticing Science and Technology, Performing the Social: EASST 2010 - Trento, Italy
    Duration: 2 Sept 20104 Sept 2010


    ConferencePracticing Science and Technology, Performing the Social
    Internet address


    • urban planning
    • transition
    • low energy


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