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From bicycles to buildings: a SCOT analysis of project level adoption of BIPV

Boyd, N. J. P. (2016) From bicycles to buildings: a SCOT analysis of project level adoption of BIPV. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Building is consistently identified as one of the key sectors for sustainable development in general and for energy savings in particular (IPCC, 2007). The use of energy in buildings has been shown to account for around 40% of UK energy usage and improvements in building energy use and efficiency have become a significant focus of attention. This has resulted in the incorporation of innovative energy saving and renewable technologies into buildings. Worryingly, technological innovations for buildings consistently fail to deliver on their promises of improved efficiency and energy savings. There is a widespread assumption that the adoption of an innovative technology is mainly to do with the conditions of the market and technical effectiveness of the innovation. Given the complex nature of construction projects this assumption about adoption appears simplistic - many innovative technologies have to be accommodated within the fabric of the building and many project actors are involved in its incorporation. This research explores the process of building level adoption and asks what happens when an innovative integrated technology (BIPV) is incorporated into a building and in what ways this might explain the failure of the technology to deliver its potential. The research thus contributes to an understanding of the implications of the adoption of BIPV and other sustainable technologies in buildings. The Social Construction of Technology approach (SCOT) is used to study three UK commercial construction projects which include BIPV. Issues examined include: the changing interests of the actors; the network of problems and possible solutions; and the knock-on effects of the chosen solution on the rest of the project. The SCOT analysis of actors’ interests and their changing relationship with the artefacts provides a way to explore the co-development of the technology and the building, and the adoption process. Interests of actors include: generation maximisation, aesthetic concerns, design optimisation and green guardianship. The SCOT approach is used to focus on design decisions taken over the course of the building project and the influence of different actor interests on these. The research draws out different types of co-development and technology related decision making which occurred during the projects and follows the effect these had on adoption. Rather than using formal roles (architect, designer, project manager etc.) and project stages (initial design, tender, detail design etc.) to explain adoption, the research found that the interests of the groups shifted and changed: sometimes they followed the standard project stages, but sometimes followed different logics. Decision-making was found to be affected by the alignment of technological frames being mobilised by actors and could be dominated by a particular frame at different times. It was not always the seemingly obvious groups which dominated decision-making and shaped the technology. The effect of social artefacts in decision-making was explored. This research develops an understanding of the dynamic process of adoption and concludes with practical implications for standard construction project procurement processes in the adoption of complex innovation.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Larsen, G. and Schweber, L.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Construction Management and Engineering
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
Science > School of the Built Environment > Energy and Environmental Engineering group
ID Code:69070


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