Paula Femenías
PhD, Architect MSA

Short CV

Current position:
Researcher at Chalmers Architecture
1998-2004 Doctoral student

1994-1997 Architectural work/ assistant for research and education at Chalmers Architecture
1993 ETSAV/ETSAB Studies of Architecture, Barcelona
1987-1992 Architectural apprentences/ assistant for research and education
1986-1993 Studies at Chalmers Architecture

September 2004, PhD in Environmental Sciences and Architecture at Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden, opponent Professor Anna Grete Hestnes, NTNU, Norway
February 1993, Master in Architecture Chalmers University of Technolog

Click here for a full list of publications in PDF

Demonstration projects for sustainable building are increasingly common features in the process towards more sustainable building practices. These projects are initiated as a means to show and to prove that sustainable building is possible to achieve within the frames of a rather normal building production. However, even though many demonstration projects have been successful they have so far contrarily to their intention have had little influence on the process of making mainstream building practices more sustainable. This doctoral thesis explores the phenomenon of demonstration projects for sustainable building based on Swedish and Dutch experiences in the late 1990s and discusses factors that impede the diffusion of concepts and technologies to mainstream building practices. The empirical findings are discussed using innovation-adoption theory and design theory, the concepts sustainable development, and sustainable building as well as a description of the structure and learning and development processes in the building sector.

The thesis finds demonstration projects to be an important strategy in the process of making mainstream building practices more sustainable but the strategy needs to be improved. The lack of diffusion and adoption of concepts and technology can on the one hand be attributed to the structure and the organisation of work in the building sector that does not encourage innovation and changes. The lack of mainstreaming of sustainable building can also be explained by economic and political systems that do not create incentives for environmental concern and long-term thinking. The lack of diffusion and adoption of successful demonstration projects and practices are also attributed to failures in the organisation of demonstration projects regarding deficiencies in planning and setting up of objectives as well as lack of systematic documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of results. Consequently, the demonstration projects do not produce reliable and useful information for further adoption. The building sector also lacks of functioning media and channels for distribution and reception of information. Furthermore, it cannot be neglected that many demonstration projects have failed to address actors in the building sector due to aesthetic and cultural preferences. However, one of the main factors for lack of adoption and 'routinizing' of demonstration practices can be explained by the fact that demonstration projects as well as sustainable building in general are rather special projects that require extra resources such as time and expert knowledge in the design and planning which are not routine in the contemporary design and building processes.


Demonstration Projects for Sustainable Building: Towards a Strategy for Sustainable Development in the Building Sector based on Swedish and Dutch Experiences

Doctoral Thesis at Chalmers University of Technology, New series no. 2161, ISSN 0346-718X, ISBN 91-7291-479-3

Download the thesis here

Abstract, PDF  
Chapter 1 - 5 PDF  
Chapter 6 - 10 PDF  


Contact details:

Paula Femenías
Built Environment and Sustainable Development
Department of Architecture
Chalmers University of Technology
Visiting address: Sven Hultinsgata 6
S-412 96 Göteborg

Phone: +46 (0)31-772 24 58