From steel and concrete to cross-laminated timber2021-12-20
Innovations based on sustainable technology have long been considered to be a remedy for both societal and environmental problems in many fields. Andrey Abadzhiev, doctoral student in Business Administration at CTF and Karlstad Business School, has examined how alternative materials can replace the old ones.
With his the licentiate thesis Wood We Change, Andrey Abadzhiev aims to understand how businesses within the construction industry organise in order to accomplish systemic change towards more sustainability.
- When we talk about change, we have to ask ourselves why we need change, says Andrey Abadzhiev. What is wrong with what we have right now? We need reasons for the changes.
In an industry that is responsible for approximately 30 percent of the emissions, there are of course many reasons for reducing the environmental impact.
- If you consider the whole life cycle of a building - from construction to demolition - 30 percent is quite a lot. No one had expected such a high number, since the black sheep with regard to sustainability is always the emissions from the airline or car industries. I wanted to highlight the construction industry, with its plethora of ongoing projects.
Why is the percentage so high for the construction industry?
- Concrete and steel are both key elements in the construction of a building. From a construction perspective, both are fantastic materials. They are reliable and they have good properties. But the processes for producing steel and concrete also has a big impact on the environment. So the question is how we can find a good balance and reduce the environmental impact.
The population of Earth is growing and more and more people want to live in cities. So we need to build vertically and we need to build more. Finding alternatives to concrete and steel is vital.
- There is a strive towards making the construction industry more environmentally friendly. That is why we need to change. Thanks to the wood industry, new innovations are making it possible to build tall buildings using alternative materials, such as cross-laminated tree.
This change needs to be systemic, which means that the change needs to be more comprehensive and include many actors. This is easier said than done, since the construction industry is governed by so many laws and regulations. Everything must be done in accordance with legislation and buildings must be safe to live in.
- The context for this change needs to be very specific. I have tried to focus on the fact that a change is needed, as well as how we can accomplish this. We need businesses that push for this change - not just regarding the technology, I also try to place this change in a social context. I employ the business model perspective, which shows that innovations and business activities can drive change on a systemic level.
What sort of businesses contribute to the change?
- In the construction industry, there are many businesses with well-defined roles. A change means different things for different actors. If you are an architect it means one thing, and if you are a design engineer it means something else. It is difficult to describe what this change means for everyone, but in one of my articles I employ different perspectives on innovation.
Andrey Abadzhiev has discovered that different actors combine different innovation activities. Those who produce this kind of technology take on leading roles and push for change in the industry.
- They are active and try to involve others to create synergies and make something together in order to drive technology forwards. I want to stress, however, that this change is not the same for everyone.