Co-Developing Sustainability Requirements

Exploring client and municipal perspectives in housing development

Time: Wed 2020-06-10 13.00

Location:, Du som saknar dator/datorvana kan kontakta för information/Use the e-mail address if you need technical assistance, Stockholm (English), Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Real Estate and Construction Management

Doctoral student: Melissa Candel , Ledning och organisering i byggande och förvaltning, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Opponent: Universitetslektor Sara Brorström, University of Gothenburg

Supervisor: Professor Tina Karrbom Gustavsson, Ledning och organisering i byggande och förvaltning; Professor Per-Erik Eriksson, Ledning och organisering i byggande och förvaltning; Docent Abukar Warsame, Fastighetsekonomi och finans


Construction has major environmental, social and economic impacts. Improving sustainability both during and after the construction process is widely discussed among a slew of practitioners, governments and researchers. Construction clients, such as housing developers, are considered key actors for change and innovation because of their position to set requirements when procuring construction projects. The process of developing project requirements has therefore mainly been studied during the construction clients’ procurement process. At the same time, municipalities use their position as land owners to drive sustainable development. Land allocation agreements allow municipalities to set project-specific sustainability requirements for construction projects on municipal land. The purpose of this thesis is to explore how municipal sustainability requirements affect housing developers when planning and designing their projects.

The research is based on a single empirical case study of an urban development programme comprising multiple parallel and sequential housing construction projects. In this study, the municipality’s and housing developers’ perspectives are explored. The results demonstrate that the housing developers perceive several barriers to implementing municipal sustainability requirements. The three main barriers that were identified are reduced flexibility coupled with uncertainty, conflicting interests coupled with reduced autonomy and interdependencies, and a lack of trust and transparency coupled with interdependencies. The municipal sustainability requirements are initially developed by the municipality for the land allocation agreement. They are then co-developed further by the municipality and the housing developers together through negotiations before being finalised in conjunction with the developers’ procurement process.

The study is focused on the period following the housing developers’ signing of land allocation agreements with the municipality and before starting their procurement process. During this period, the housing developers attempt to negotiate municipal sustainability requirements that they anticipate will increase costs, risk and uncertainty and decrease the value of their final product. Negotiations between the housing developers and the municipality can be viewed as value co-creation processes stimulated by functional conflict. These findings build on three papers that are included in the thesis.

Contributions are made to literature on the role of construction clients and their perceived barriers to implementing and developing sustainable construction solutions and practices and barriers to change in general. Theoretical contributions are also made to literature on value co-creation in construction by illustrating how clients engage in the co-creation of value with municipalities and other clients. Finally, the theoretical link between value co-creation and functional conflict is studied and developed.