Åsa Ericson, a lead researcher in one of four studies carried out in cooperation with the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC), an initiative with the aim to put climate on top of the agenda in the construction industry, talks about enablers for sustainability in the construction industry.
Q: What were your main findings when you finished the pre-study?
A: We found that perspectives in the whole value chain need to be addressed. When you talk about sustainable development, we found that some were talking about sustainability in terms of specific outcomes and some were saying we have to define what is sustainable development before we take actions.
Q: Was there anything that surprised you?
A: When you’re talking to people they say that sustainability is not a core topic. It’s not a core topic in product design, or development literature either. It’s some sort of add on. That’s surprising.
Q: When you talk about changing mind-sets, are you referring to switching from economy to environment in people’s minds instead?
A: Absolutely – in early idea and concept stages. That’s a key to the transformation. For many, sustainable ideas have not been developed because the starting point is “we can’t afford it”. I can’t remember who said it, but an innovation guru said, “do the right things and money will follow”. Right now it’s sort of the other way around.
Q: It seems that so much of our current global climate issues have arisen from a greedy pursuit for economic wealth. Do you think people have been too individualistic?
A: When it comes to innovation perspectives we have tried to see how long it takes for a person to actually really like their own idea best, and it actually only takes a few seconds before a person becomes too fond of his or her own idea. So, I guess in that respect, yes, we are too individualistic. It’s not only about thinking outside the box, but also about making a bigger box to think within.
Q: What would you say the most important findings were?
A: They provided snap-shots for me to make me understand that it’s not a simple problem, it’s a really complex problem and we can not only address one topic at a time, we need to address several topics in parallel.
Q: So what’s next? Are you planning on continuing the research?
A: Now we are doing a second analysis of what we have heard and read and we will try and package that into an easy to read brochure that we will put a lot of questions in to stimulate a climate challenge discussion.