Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
Whereas knowledge on sustainable housing techniques expands more and more, it can be noticed that the widespread introduction of sustainable construction techniques in a typical market situation often fails to happen. Considering that, for example, the Kyoto protocol targets are just a first step in fighting the consequences of the greenhouse effect, one should principally expect the reverse to happen. We distinguish three factors that contribute to this anomaly between 'knowing' and 'acting': * the present higher investment costs of sustainable construction * the difficulty of introducing awareness and attitude change with the larger public * the inertia of policy makers in enforcing effective environmental measures that interfere with the public's everyday life, in this case in the domain of housing. This raises some interesting questions for the scientific community: * should researchers only 'inform on demand' or should they take the opportunities for a more pro-active attitude towards public, professionals and policy makers, while at the same time maintaining their scientific objectivity? Or, more fundamentally, does knowledge induce an ethic component one should not deny? * can one think of promoting design strategies that provide for a multi-stage introduction of sustainable building methods, thus reducing the actual gap between goals and reality? These questions are being addressed taking the context of Flanders, one of Belgium’s three regions, as a starting point.
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