Organising matters for the environment: Environmental studies of housing management and buildings

Sammanfattning: Buildings give rise to several environmental problems over the whole life cycle. To reduce these, technical measures with focus on energy are commonly used. However, environmental problems are more than energy and cannot be solved with technical measures alone. This thesis seeks to understand the relationship between organisation and the environment. The question is how environmental effects of organising can be studied and how organisation and management influence environmental performance. These issues are explored in the field of housing management and life cycle assessment (LCA). Understanding is sought through comparative studies of housing management companies and their buildings, in which qualitative organisational data were collected from interviews, observations and internal documents and quantitative data were collected from internal documents (Papers II and III). A ‘hybrid’ methodology based on the concept of environmental assessment of organising (EAO) has been developed here (Paper I). Research literature on environmental management and indicators are also explored and compared with housing management practice (Paper IV). Furthermore, a life cycle methodology was used for the comparison of passive and conventional building chains including actors and their choices along the chain (Paper V). This thesis has shown that it is possible to study the environmental effects of organising by including humans in the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The way organisation and management influence environmental performance is through the combination of many actions. The concept of ‘action nets’ and the ‘theory of practice’ are found to be especially useful here. It is concluded that organising matters for the environment. A form of organising that pays close attention to the building and its physical flows seems to be important for a better environmental performance. Environmental indicators need to be specific for work processes and physical environmental flows. Passive house buildings are not always better than conventional buildings and that resident’s choice of eco-labelled electricity matters most.