Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source: Workshop "How do you manage? Unravelling the situated practice of environmental management" (2012)
, laws and regulations
, low energy buildings
In Norway, the energy consumption of dwellings represents 40% of the total inland-consumed energy. In order to lower the energy consumption in dwellings, the government adopted various strategies, from technical solutions (legal requirements for the construction sector) to incentives/subsidies for private persons and companies who decide to build low energy dwellings. Aligning itself to the European Union energy policy, Norway translated the EU Directive on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD has as goals the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and of energy consumption) into national law, named `The planning and building act'. Additionally, technical requirements come to complete the law, specifying the norms that the new built and the refurbished dwellings must fulfil.
This paper examines the role of building regulations in architects' and engineers' practices. The experts are not passively implementing the given law, but actively participate in legislation, implementation of law and evaluation of legal requirements. By this, they `tame' the law, adapting it to the real conditions, to their needs and expectations. The concept of domestication will help to explain how experts understand to implement innovative technology.
In a broad sense, engineers and architects can be seen as managers in the construction sector. They participate in legislation through the advisory groups; they carry out the laws in practice by raising dwellings; and they evaluate both the laws and the dwellings. Seen like this, the experts `manage' both the theoretical and the practical aspect of the impact of the construction sector on environment. The architects and engineers have an active role in drawing the sustainable development in the construction sector.
The domestication of laws and regulations is seen from an STS perspective, using Actor Network Theory. Beside human actors (in our case the experts), the technological devices, the low energy buildings, and not least the legal requirements will be seen as active actors in the construction of reality in the building sector.
The paper is based on in-depth interviews with architects and engineers involved in research on zero emission buildings. Through structural analysis of my data, I follow how the arguments pro and contra existing legal requirements are used in order to support or hinder the innovation imposed by law.
The paper will contribute to a better understanding of the role that laws and regulations play in the success or failure of innovation in the construction sector, and the role of experts in taming the law. Additionally, it offers a glance in possible directions that the innovation in the construction sector can take.