Designing urban knowledge: Competing perspectives on energy and buildings

Simon Guy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The author engages with debates about buildings, energy efficiency, and the innovation process - issues that are of great significance for urban sustainability because buildings are such an important constituent of urban energy consumption. Within this context, the author explores what it might mean to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of technical change. Questioning conventional accounts, he develops a sociotechnical perspective on competing energy knowledges and contexts of design, development, and consumption. It is argued that energy research and policy-making for the built environment is underpinned by a common understanding of technical change, which fails to take account of the contextual nature of energy-related choice. Describing cultural, organisational, and commercial factors shaping technological innovation, the author explores how more-or-less energy-efficient choices influencing urban development are made in response to changing opportunities and practices which sometimes favor energy efficiency, sometimes not. The author draws upon sociological accounts of technical change and illustrates both a sociotechnical perspective on energy and buildings and a key role for sociologists in the field of architecture, energy, and environmental studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-659
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironment & Planning C: Government & Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


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