Building Green - Perspectives on Environmental Mangagement in Construction

Abstract: Over the last two decades the construction industry has made efforts to develop green building practices. Researchers within the field have provided theoretical knowledge on how to design green buildings and analytical environmental management tools have been developed to guide the practitioners. Information campaigns have raised the general environmental awareness among building practitioners. In spite of these efforts, building practices do not seem to have undergone any marked changes. This raises the question of how environmental issues actually are dealt with in construction. The aim of this thesis is to create an understanding of how environmental issues are managed in construction. The thesis consists of five papers exploring various aspects of the greening of construction. The research methods range from theoretical discussions of the usefulness of environmental management tools and a questionnaire study on environmental management in the construction industry, to text analytical studies of media?s representation of green building and field studies on environmental management in construction projects. Findings show that project practices conflicts with the long-term principles of sustainable development and that environmental concerns have been narrowed down to a few targeted issues. Moreover, organisational structures and project practices of construction were found to be mismatched with centrally controlled and generic environmental management practices. It was also found that the way environmental issues were dealt with in construction projects depended on their legitimization in the organisation and how well interpretive and socio-cultural communication processes has created meaning and understanding for practitioners in relation to their specific situation and context. It is concluded that there is a need to go beyond the prevalent normative and rationalistic technological view by shifting to a perspective that integrates technical and social aspects of environmental management. To achieve green building it is necessary to take into account that individuals when acting take part in on-going processes of organising and social practice which influence the way they act. Such a change of perspective is metaphorically illustrated by shifting the product-centred Green Building to the process-centred Building Green and thereby emphasizing the importance of not neglecting the influence of on-going processes on the outcome of construction projects.

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