Accepted paper:

Mainstreaming passive houses in Sweden: institutional perspectives from two regions


Johan Niskanen (Linkopings University)
Harald Rohracher (Linköping University)

Paper short abstract:

A shift towards nearly-zero energy buildings is required by EU. This leads to multi-scalar challenges, and concerns the embedding of buildings in regional institutional contexts. This paper studies how institutionalization processes interact and shape the mainstreaming of passive houses in Sweden.

Paper long abstract:

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires Member States to shift the construction of new houses towards 'nearly-zero energy buildings'. However, the implementation of the directive on a national level faces many challenges and eventually concerns embedding in existing institutional contexts beyond formal building regulations. The attempt of a top-down implementation of new building standard comes under pressure from different sides: on the one hand, different national stakeholders and advocacy coalitions aim to shape building regulations in a way that meets their special interests or policy aims. On the other hand, different institutional milieus have developed around the question of highly-energy efficient buildings at national or regional scale, not only consisting of particular regulations, but also expectations and norms and organisational forms of building companies, etc. The aim of the paper is to study how different formal and informal institutionalization processes interact and shape the mainstreaming of passive houses in Sweden. Interviews with regional actors as well as policy documents and newspaper articles is the main empirical material in the study of two contrasting Swedish regions, and their interrelation with the implementation of new national building standards. With this analysis the paper wants to contribute to a more differentiated understanding of the implementation of public policies aiming at a sustainability transition of the building sector. More emphasis needs to be put on the interaction of new regulatory regimes with existing institutional fields at different scales and on the institutional work from various actors shaping the transformation process in particular ways.

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Confluence, collaboration and intersection
Mainstreaming zero carbon buildings in Europe?