Part of the problem has been that the Danish construction industry the last decade has benefitted from a booming construction market leaving few incentives to adopt new technologies and practices. The landscape development of economic crisis and political concern on the climate agenda in 2009/10, however, have changed this situation and have put the dominant regime of construction and housing under pressure:
- Low energy and passive houses and energy retrofitting of residential and public buildings are identified as new social demands and markets, as energy prizes rises and as consumers and the media recently (since 2008) is paying much more attention to climate change after a 7 year period of green backlash.
- Construction and housing is currently being enrolled into (national/EU) programs of climate adaptation, implying also a systemic perspective on housing and construction, where change of energy performance of houses is seen as a part of an overall transition to low carbon energy systems (e.g. Regeringen 2008).
Compared to a number of other European countries, the Danish construction industry has been a late starter in a transition to more sustainable construction. In particular in relation to the passive house concept, the construction material industry has been a laggard – and this lack of responsiveness has been visible.
Public institutions and the subventioned sector of cooperative housing societies were given a broad (undefined) obligation to undertake experimental projects, e.g. in energy and resource saving. Cooperative societies undertaking such projects had the option to apply for supplementary funding at the ‘Ministry of welfare’, but in general there were no central funding of experiments (Erhvervs- og byggestyrelsen, 2007:12). Accordingly, national Danish policies have not compensated for this inability of the market to bring forward new technologies and sustainable way of living
As part of the reorganisation of the real estate financing market, two private funding institutions (RealDania, Byggefonden Kuben) was created with the obligation to support project with construction and the build environment. These funds, in particular RealDania, have made funding of experimental projects of more sustainable construction and housing part of their policy. They have served as the main central funding institution of such projects since 2000. Examples of the activities of RealDania are local projects such as ‘Fremtidens parcelhus’ [The detached house of the future] (Municipality of Køge) and the new settlement of Stenløse Syd (see cases).