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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number ES/M000249/1
Title Making the zero-carbon standard home: understanding project-firm innovation in UK house building
Status Completed
Energy Categories Energy Efficiency(Other) 25%;
Energy Efficiency(Residential and commercial) 50%;
Other Cross-Cutting Technologies or Research(Environmental, social and economic impacts) 25%;
Research Types Applied Research and Development 100%
Science and Technology Fields SOCIAL SCIENCES (Business and Management Studies) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Consumer attitudes and behaviour) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Technology acceptance) 50%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 25%;
Principal Investigator Professor M Sexton
No email address given
Construction Management and Engineering
University of Reading
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 01 June 2015
End Date 31 May 2017
Duration 24 months
Total Grant Value £408,192
Industrial Sectors
Region South East
Programme Grants
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor M Sexton , Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading (99.997%)
  Other Investigator Dr L Schweber , Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading (0.001%)
Professor ARJ Dainty , Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University (0.001%)
Dr DJ Sage , Business and Economics, Loughborough University (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Constructing Excellence (0.000%)
Project Contact , Barratt Developments (0.000%)
Project Contact , Zero Carbon Hub (0.000%)
Project Contact , NHBC National House-Building Council (0.000%)
Project Contact , Structural Timber Association (STA) (0.000%)
Project Contact , The Home Builders Federation (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract The proposed research explores the significant challenge which the carbon reduction agenda poses for UK house builders. Focusing on the development of new products and processes at the project level and their diffusion across a large multi-regional firm we will ask key research questions that include: How can construction firms take advantage of project-level innovations? How can they meet the challenges which progressive carbon reduction targets currently pose? How do these innovations travel across large, complex firms? And how do standards shape innovations and how do innovations feed into ongoing changes in standard practice? The proposed research explores these questions by examining the development, uptake and diffusion of technical innovations from Hanham Hall, an experimental housing development which Barratt Developments has used to address the 2016 requirement that all new homes meet a zero-carbon standard. Barratt Developments is one of the largest house builders in the UK. The house builder has four brands and had an average of around 400 active sites at any one time across 25 divisions.The question of how specific technical innovations from Hanham Hall are being diffused and stabilised across Barratt Developments addresses some of the core challenges for the mainstreaming of zero-carbon standard buildings. While many scholars highlight the challenges of cross-project learning and the diffusion of innovations, little empirical or theoretical work has been done on the 'anchoring of innovations' at the firm-level. Similarly, little work has been done on the travel of innovations across projects within a large, multi-regional firm. This problem is especially pressing when one takes into account the ambitious upcoming carbon reduction targets and the largely organisational nature of the challenge. As a number of observers have noted, the sector knows how to build low-carbon buildings on experimental developments; what it does not know how to do is to incorporate that know-how into standard practice.The research questions are informed by the application of actor-network theory and neo-institutionalism to the study of key technical innovations at Hanham Hall across Barratt Developments:(1) to identify and explain the development of a number of key product and process innovations at Hanham Hall in response to carbon reduction requirements;(2) to examine the impact of those innovations on firm-level practices (including supply chains, procurement, internal management systems, business models, policies and strategies);(3) to follow the introduction of those innovations into other Barratt Developments housing projects and to document similarities and differences in project-level accommodation to those elements;(4) to use this analysis to theorise processes of innovation, diffusion and stabilisation/institutionalisation (in firm-level strategies, systems and practices) within large, project-based firms; and,(5) to contrast the findings produced by the deployment of neo-institutionalism and actor-network theory in the study of a single complex empirical case.The focal case study research will draw upon the analysis of documents, relevant artefacts, in-depth interviews and observations. The analysis of these sources will allow the team to trace the associations and movement of people and objects across multiple Barratt Development sites.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 17/07/15