Gavin Killip, Alice Owen and Marina Topouzi
Buildings contribute significantly to CO2 emissions but also have large technical potential for improvement, making them a key sector for climate and energy policy. The UK’s energy efficiency policy for existing housing has focused historically on relatively cheap and minimally disruptive individual measures, whereas climate targets indicate the need for more holistic, costly and disruptive treatments. The construction industry is a vital potential enabler of this policy goal, but the industry has not yet been successfully enrolled in what amounts to a profound change to industry practices.
A focus on supply chain actors is justified by previous research, which identified that installers and builders are influential over project design, specification and delivery, but that the installers are in turn constrained by their suppliers in what is more properly considered a ‘value network’. Firms operate as ‘middle actors’ between bottom-up consumer demand and top-down policy. Eleven interviews were carried out with a purposive sample of merchants and manufacturers in the UK construction value network, deliberately skewed to include a number of innovators and niche ‘green’ firms alongside larger-scale manufactures and wholesalers.
Qualitative analysis highlighted six key themes: industry practices; skills and knowledge; roles and responsibilities; innovation; engagement with installers; and policy. Six different roles were identified in the construction value network, combining aspects of manufacture, distribution, on-site construction and end-of-life product disposal. The complexity of this value network needs to be understood, and the sector engaged with, if buildings policy is to achieve its climate targets.
Killip, G., Owen, A. & Topouzi, M. 2020. Exploring the practices and roles of UK construction manufacturers and merchants in relation to housing energy retrofit. Journal of Cleaner Production, 251, 119205. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119205Opens in a new tab
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