Historical trends


The 1970s energy crisis led to attempts in high-tech experiments in low energy consuming buildings and stop for open fireplace and panoramic windows. But the main impact was in the development of tougher standards for insulation in Danish building regulation, and new building styles which took account of energy consumption. In parallel, a few energy-saving products for use in dwellings were developed as the first generation of energy windows, energy saving light bulbs, etc. Accordingly, an early development track in the established construction sector was an adjustment to the requirements of energy conservation, as driven by innovation, research, standards and regulatory efforts (Gram-Hansen and Jensen 2005).

In the 1990s, an ecological modernization discourse and strategy (Holm/Stauning 2002, Holm et.al., 2007) included efforts to promote a wide range of regulatory actions, research and pilot projects, and developing methods to support eco-buildings (Jensen/Gram-Hansen 2007).

The Urban and Housing Ministry in 1995 launched an action plan for urban ecology with various initiatives to promote ecological construction. An R&D development and testing program for alternative insulation was launched in 1999 that gave impetus to a number of experimentation, testing and research.. There was a wide range of retrofitting projects, urban ecology experimental projects and buildings with different ecological features, often with a background in networking between the public housing sector, retrofitting companies, municipalities, consultants and residents (Jensen et al 1998).

Methods were developed to analyze and make visible the materials resource use and environmental costs in buildings and constructing: Life cycle analysis, environmental review, environmental labeling, energy measurements etc. Using new forms of governance of self-regulation, voluntary agreements and partnerships occurred; for example a so-called Product Panel for the construction sector (Construction Panel in 2001, see Remmen 2007), and a program for eco design partnerships in urban development.

Finally, technical standards have been an instrument to promote eco-conversion of buildings, including voluntarily agreed green standards, including environmental assessment methods, the green certificate, green accounts, the Nordic Swan, energy and eco-labels. These measures were assessed, only to have had little impact on mainstream construction (Jensen and Gram-Hansen 2007).

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