Intermediation in a low energy building project: a case of One Brighton housing development.

Working and conference papers

Many experimental local projects have been carried out in low energy buildings that integrate a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and solutions. These have been important in showing how low energy building can be carried out and stimulating future expectations on energy demand reduction through buildings. However, a key question remains as to how we can spread these experiments to other localities and, importantly, into commercial applications, and who are important actors in these processes.
This paper presents an in-depth case study of One Brighton, a new build housing development in England offering 172 apartments and a community space, constructed during 2007–2010. One Brighton was developed with an objective of creating a residential building complex that enables sustainable, healthy and happy lifestyles. It in many ways stems from Bioregional – an environmental charity, social enterprise and an intermediary organisation championing more sustainable ways of living – and its pioneering BedZed housing development in London. However, also other intermediary actors were needed to initiate and pull through this innovative low energy building project. Triangulation of data sources including interviews, attendance in an on-site learning tour, and written material were used to construct the in-depth case.
Through a detailed analysis of this case, the paper shows (1) the role of a key intermediary actor in advancing systemic innovation in low energy housing beyond its initial experimental stage, and (2) how an ecology of intermediaries and champions advanced energy efficiency and sustainability during different phases of a building project. Intermediation in this case was crucial, taking different forms by different actors and at different periods. For policymakers this highlights the need to support the existence and activities of such intermediaries.