Low-carbon innovation in non-domestic buildings: The importance of supply chain integration

Journal Article

Construction must play a major role in meeting climate change targets, but this will require major changes in industry practice. The sector will need to adopt innovative low-carbon technologies, integrate these within novel building designs and ensure these designs are constructed, implemented and optimised successfully. A likely precondition for this is greater levels of integration within the construction supply chain. While there is evidence that supply chain integration (SCI) can improve project performance and enable innovation, the literature rarely differentiates between different types of innovation and has paid little attention to low-carbon innovation. This paper synthesises insights from three different bodies of literature – construction innovation, low carbon buildings and SCI – to create a typology of low-carbon innovations in non-domestic buildings and to identify conditions and strategies for their successful implementation. It proposes that low-carbon innovations are ‘building-enhancing’ ‘integral’ and/or ‘user-dependent’ and their effective implementation requires collaboration, championing and user-involvement. The paper uses two case studies to illustrate the diversity of mechanisms through which these conditions can be realised. It concludes with some reflections on the methodological challenges of studying this topic, together with the wider implications of the proposed framework for industrial practice and public policy.


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