The impact of environmental regulation on innovation in the housing sector: the case of the Code for Sustainable Homes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Real Estate and Planning


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


10 25 50
Description 1. Experimental leeway process model

Research led to an enhanced understanding of the uptake of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) across multiple divisions and their implications for firm level innovation strategies. Innovation was characterised as a movement through successive diffusion phases, including: scanning alternatives, operational alignment, parallel pilotings and developing to maturity. Each of these varies with the degree of 'experimental leeway' such as extending project timescales, increasing budgets, and facilitating the support of external expertise. In each of these phases, house-builders not only assessed the feasibility of the MMC in question. The analysis highlighted how the practicalities of implementing MMCs across divisions and associated designs and build programs loop back into firm level trajectories.

2. Challenges to the adoption of modern methods of construction

The research has produced a better understanding of the challenges faced by house-builders in the adoption of MMCs. The analysis revealed that the introduction of MMCs is not a simple 'plug-in' substitution of one technical solution for another; but rather the MMC solution is an emergent outcome of negotiation between project participants' interests, and the development of complementary technical and process innovations. Examples include the redesign of scaffolding, changes in the jurisdictions of and interaction between trades, the formation of new warranty standards and inspection regimes, and the redistribution of risk and responsibility between supply chain partners. The research thus highlights the multiple interdependent product and process innovations associated with the uptake of MMCs.

3. ANT contribution-insights

The ANT stream of the project contributes to innovation studies by revealing the importance of multiplicity to the upscaling of technological innovations: modern methods of construction were revealed to concurrently be projects, processes and products. This finding contributes by explaining how misunderstandings around the natures of innovations, create significant barriers between the multiple firms and actors involved in successfully upscaling innovations. The research also contributes to the development of ANT by theorizing the role of human affects and emotions (e.g. pride, confidence) in the adoption of innovations. Affective enrolment is particularly important in more temporary project-based innovation contexts, like house-building, where formal innovation management controls, are considerably more difficult to implement and maintain.

4. NI contribution/insights

A key theoretical contribution of this research lies in the development of an analytic framework to analyse the effect of culture on innovation at the project and firm levels. The analysis highlighted the impact on four types of rules: temporal, spatial, jurisdictional and governance on the innovation process. The research documented the rules informing the dominant way of working. It also explored how the introduction of MMC rendered some of these rules problematic and how new rules were developed. Examples include issues such as the design of scaffolding, the physical erection of the structure, the programming of follow on trades and certification criteria. In each case, rules, resulting from protracted negotiation on-site, captured and fixed process innovations. Commercial and physical site specific considerations also led to variations in the implementation of MMCs.
Exploitation Route The findings offer house-building practitioners an evidence-based process model and MMC innovation roadmap (Achievement 1 above) to assist large and small house-builders to: (a) meet successfully that organisational challenges of the adoption of MMC (Achievement 2 above), and (b) the upscaling of MMC solutions across (in the case of large house-builders), complex, multidivisional organisations (Achievement 3 and 4 above). The models and roadmap are illustrated with real-world case study examples. The findings will be taken forward by the industrial partners and their broader supply chains, as well as continued engagement with the projects 'pathway to impact' partners.

The research team is in the process of producing a set of journal papers that will be of interest to three academic communities: (a) construction innovation community - the findings will challenge scholars to elevate the dominant technologically-deterministic view of innovation found in much of the construction discipline to a socio-technical, recursive conceptualisation, (b) actor-network theory community - the findings will benefit academics interested in the use and development of ANT, and related approaches, to the built environment, and (c) organisational studies - the findings will engage scholars with an interest on innovation, standardisation and project-based firms, in particular the role of micro-dynamics in institutional change.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description DIRECT IMPACT OF FINDINGS FOR THE PROJECT INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS House builder project industrial partner. The project findings have had the following impact: (a) the learning from the case study housing development Installation and Design Sandpits and on-site problem-solving led to an estimated five day saving from a total programme schedule of 28 weeks; (b) supply chain capacity building with the timber-frame manufacturer / installer and the architect with respect to the advantages and issues with current design of timber-frame, with installation and follow-on trades; and, (c) the development of strategy for future implementation of timber-frame in housing developments. Timber frame designer / manufacturer / installer. The project findings have had the following impact: (a) the learning from the case study housing development led directly to a revision of the design of the company's timber-frame in respect to service batten tolerances and the structural make up of panel. The new panels are in production; (b) all designers, factory floor and installers have develop new knowledge and practices with respect to the new panel make up; (c) the revised design of the panels has helped to eliminate some of the problems experienced in the case study housing development on subsequent projects that the company has been engaged with. Impact on wider new house-builder practitioners Integrated supply chain (ISC) management for timber-frame. The project findings have had the following impact: (a) an innovation roadmap for supply chain integration for timber-frame housing from fragmented to fully integrated ISCs through the complete project lifecycle (business case, design, manufacture, installation and build-out); (b) the generic overall savings from improved ISC set out in the innovation roadmap (based on the experience of the case study housing development) are estimated to be 2.5% saving in time and 2% saving in cost for a partially ISC compared to a fragmented supply chain, and 4.5% saving in time and 3.75% in cost for a fully ISC; and (c) a handbook to support the innovation roadmap which provides supply chain partners with key integration targets and deliverables for each phase, fully illustrated with examples from the case study development.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic