Building Sustainability : Studies on incentives in construction and management of real estate

Abstract: This thesis summarizes the results from several studies with connection to sustainability in construction and management of real estate. Here, the concept sustainability includes environmental, social and economic dimensions and focus is on the actors with the best possibilities to impact real estate, namely the real estate owners and the developers. The thesis consists of six papers. Real estate owners’ perception of and incentives and strategies for sustainability was studied in four ways: incentives for energy efficiency and other sustainability issues in connection to renovation (papers I and II), factors that characterize firms with an ambitious approach to energy efficiency (paper V) and economic incentives for energy efficiency (paper VI). Developers’ behavior and impact on sustainability was studied in two ways: how developers’ planning and construction methods may influence energy consumption for future residents (paper III) and how developers relate to requirements for building environmental certification levels (paper IV).The first paper aims to clarify how housing firms see and treat energy efficiency matters in connection to renovation of multi-family buildings constructed during the 1960’s and 70’s. Interviews with housing firms resulted in four ideal housing firm types illustrating that housing firms have more or less incentives to improve energy efficiency. The second paper aimed to study a model for renovation of buildings in a residential area in peripheral Stockholm and to assess how it considers environmental, social and economic sustainability as well as technical concerns.Paper V builds on the results in paper I and aims to identify factors, on a firm level as well as in the surroundings of the firm, that characterize housing firms who own multi-family buildings from the 1960’s and 70’s and who have an ambitious approach to energy efficiency.Paper VI uses information from energy performance certificates to study whether better energy performance increases the selling price of single-family homes, which would increase owners’ incentives to improve energy efficiency.Paper III takes its starting point in an indicated shift in developers’ planning and construction practices for laundry facilities in owner-occupied multi-family buildings. The paper aims to clarify whether a shift has actually occurred from communal laundry rooms to in-unit laundry appliances and to illuminate the impact this could have on residents’ energy consumption for laundry. Paper IV reports the study of how developers who have adopted the environmental certification system LEED relate to the requirements for specific certification levels and how updated requirements risk undermining developers’ incentives for sustainable construction.