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Meet IIIEE researcher Nora Smedby

Nora Smedby
Nora Smedby defends her Doctoral thesis on 8 April

Urban Transition Öresund: Developer dialogue - a tool for greener buildings


How can a city encourage energy efficiency in new buildings? A study within the Urban Transition Öresund shows that local demands on building developers give good results. Combined with dialogue and knowledge sharing, the results are even better. 

Energy efficiency in new buildings is of high priority for most local governments in Sweden today. Accordingly, the cities increasingly address building developers through different types of governance strategies. But what difference do they make in the end? Within the project Urban Transition Öresund, IIIEE researcher Nora Smedby has aimed to answer this question by evaluating the impact of a local programme for sustainable buildings, Miljöbyggprogram Syd, as well as a developer dialogue in Malmö, Sweden. Concerning estimated energy use, her answer is quite clear: 

– My study indicates that the energy performance in these buildings improved thanks to local regulation. However, since the buildings as well as the programme were very new at the time of my study, I could only analyse the calculated energy efficiency, and not the actual outcome, says Nora Smedby. Nora Smedby’s study included all apartment buildings in Malmö built in 2010 and 2011. She compared three categories of buildings: those not regulated by the local governance programme, those built on city-owned land and thus included in the programme, and as an unplanned third category, the apartment buildings in the district of Fullriggaren, situated in the residential area of Western Harbour.

– I realised these buildings had to form a category of their own, since circumstances here were different. In addition to the local governance programme, the city of Malmö in this case also worked with a building developer dialogue, which showed to have a strong impact. Moreover, the area has a very strong green profile, which might have influenced sustainability ambition levels of the developers. The dialogue, including seminars and workshops and other forums for knowledge sharing and discussions, seems to have had an enhancing effect on the ambitions of the building developers, since the Fullriggaren district shows particularly low calculated energy consumption. 

– Developer dialogue as a method is resource intensive, but can be a good investment since it may contribute significantly to the effectiveness of local programmes, says Nora Smedby. In Denmark, the city of Egedal has reached similar results by combining local demands on constructions built on city-owned land and work with dialogue and incentives, known as governing by enabling. Comparing their studies, Nora Smedby and her Danish colleague Maj-Britt Quitzau have also seen a tendency where both cities and building developers aim to take energy-efficient buildings from the experimental hi-tech pilot project level into the mainstream.

– We see both a tendency and a need. In order to scale up, stakeholders need to fill the knowledge and process gap, leading from being merely an innovation to a new standard way of building.

Text and photo: Sara Bernstrup Nilsson 


Urban Transition Öresund:

  • IIIEE researchers: Lena NeijNora SmedbyÅke ThidellBernadett KissKes McCormick
  • Project time: 2011–2014
  • Budget: EUR 2.7 million  
  • Funding agencies: EU grant from the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IVA programme.
  • Partners: The municipalities of Lund, Malmö, Copenhagen, Ballerup and Roskilde, Lund University, LU Open, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Malmö University, Roskilde University and Aalborg University Copenhagen.
  • Further info: Urban Transition Website
  • The study will be presented in an academic article, which has been accepted for publication (Smedby, N. (in press). Assessing local governance experiments for building energy efficiency - the case of Malmö, Sweden. Environmental and Planning C: Government and Policy. doi:10.1068/c13350 (provisional) but is not yet published.


Related reading: IIIEE Research on Urban Transition Öresund

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