Sustainable buildings – the dynamics of technical innovations, user practices and standards

Description: We live and work in buildings, and we spend most of our time in buildings. At the same time buildings account for roughly 40% of the energy worldwide, thus, contributing significantly to global warming. The development of ‘sustainable buildings’ has vast potential in reducing climate impact and improving long­term visions for the built environment. Technical developments and new design practices with regard energy renovation and construction have in recent years lead to new domains, e.g., zero-net-energy housing, eco-cities, and sustainability certification of building, and to an increased interest in changing user awareness and practices in connection with household energy consumption. The course provides an overview of different players and concepts of sustainable buildings, and of the dynamics involved in the development of this field. Drawing on insights from science and technology studies (STS), the course emphasizes the co-evolution of technologies and practices. The course is organized around three main themes: (a) new technologies and concepts such as passive houses, energy+ houses, and zero energy buildings (b) user practices; how they influence energy demand and are influenced by new technologies, e.g. ICT, and (c) the dynamics of developing ‘sustainable buildings’, e.g. emphasizing the role of standards, regulations and policies in the transitions towards sustainable buildings. The course objective is to establish familiarity with contemporary research in the field of low energy buildings, STS, practice theory and actor network theory to develop a framework for analyzing the conditions for the development of sustainable buildings. Also, the course will focus on the methodological challenges of studying and analyzing these processes.

The PhD student is required to provide a three-pages (maximum) written presentation in which s/he relates the course literature to his/ her project. The presentation must include references to the literature employed. This brief paper is to be handed in after the course, and will be commented upon by the faculty. It is a precondition for receiving credits for the course.

Organizer: Kirsten Gram-Hanssen,, Per Heiselberg,, Susse Georg,
Time: 24-26 March, 2014
Place: Aalborg University Copenhagen: 24/3: Frederikskaj 10, 3. sal, room 10A/2.164 25-26/3: A. C. Meyersvænge 15, room ACM 15/4.058


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