The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 7, Number 2, 2008

ISSN 1602-2297

Action Research for Sustainable Housing: Th eoretical and Methodological Implications of Striving for Research as a Tool for Change

Susanna Elfors (b. Nilsson)
Built Environment Analysis, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, KTH, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden.

Örjan Svane
Environmental Strategies Research, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, KTH, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract: Critics claim that neither results from sustainable housing demonstration projects nor tools for the environmental impact assessment of buildings are used in mainstream housing practice. Th is raises the question of how research-based knowledge for energy effi ciency and environmental sustainability in the built environment could be transferred to practice in a better way. In this article we propose a model to address this problem by combining refl ective research and “green engineering”. Th e model was developed through applying action research theory on generalized fi ndings of empirical studies by diff erent researchers. Th e model is called Action Research for Environmentally Sustainable Housing (ARESH). In this kind of research it is permissible to be openly normative and to strive for change, but not to neglect critical refl ection. To achieve this, the researcher has to co-operate closely with co-researchers such as residents and housing managers, and, furthermore, to balance between taking the roles of researcher, team member and teacher/preacher. On the positive side, the model permits dissemination of information targeted at researchers as well as practitioners, and also “leaves behind” practical knowledge with the co-researchers after the project proper has ended.

Keywords: Environmental research, sustainability, action research, housing research

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