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While the paradigm of sustainable development has largely influenced architecture projects worldwide, Green Building Certifications (GBCs) have become the new (increasingly mandatory) standard of project performance. Numerous studies have concentrated on the influence of sustainable development (SD) in the final product: the building. However, more research is still needed in order to understand how GBCs have influenced building processes, particularly collaboration and innovation within architecture projects. In order to fill this gap, this study presents results from 19 interviews with professionals in the built environment and examines three architecture projects conducted in Canada that received a widely popular GBC and were significantly influenced by SD principles during the design and building process. The research applies recent frameworks for exploring stakeholders’ interests on GBCs and the collaboration and innovation practices developed by them. Research results show that processes within these projects are shaped by at least four tensions that can either enhance or hinder collaboration and innovation: strategic-tactical, collaborative-competitive, participative-effective and individual-collective. The study highlights the importance of understanding GBC as a process and not only as a final outcome, and thus, to better manage these tensions so that they contribute to product and process performance.
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The influence of green building certifications in
collaboration and innovation processes
Benjamin Herazoa & Gonzalo Lizarraldeb
a Faculté de l’aménagement, Université de Montréal, IF Research Group, Montréal, Canada
b École d’architecture, Université de Montréal, IF Research Group, Montréal, Canada
Published online: 03 Jun 2015.
To cite this article: Benjamin Herazo & Gonzalo Lizarralde (2015): The influence of green building certifications in
collaboration and innovation processes, Construction Management and Economics, DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2015.1047879
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01446193.2015.1047879
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The influence of green building certifications in collaboration
and innovation processes
BENJAMIN HERAZO
1
*and GONZALO LIZARRALDE
2
1
Faculte
´de l’ame
´
nagement, Universite
´de Montre
´
al, IF Research Group, Montre
´
al, Canada
2
E
´cole d’architecture, Universite
´de Montre
´
al, IF Research Group, Montre
´
al, Canada
Received 21 October 2014; accepted 29 April 2015
While the paradigm of sustainable development has largely influenced architecture projects worldwide, Green
Building Certifications (GBCs) have become the new (increasingly mandatory) standard of project perfor-
mance. Numerous studies have concentrated on the influence of sustainable development (SD) in the final
product: the building. However, more research is still needed in order to understand how GBCs have
influenced building processes, particularly collaboration and innovation within architecture projects. In order
to fill this gap, this study presents results from 19 interviews with professionals in the built environment and
examines three architecture projects conducted in Canada that received a widely popular GBC and were sig-
nificantly influenced by SD principles during the design and building process. The research applies recent
frameworks for exploring stakeholders’ interests on GBCs and the collaboration and innovation practices
developed by them. Research results show that processes within these projects are shaped by at least four
tensions that can either enhance or hinder collaboration and innovation: strategic–tactical, collaborative–
competitive, participative–effective and individual–collective. The study highlights the importance of under-
standing GBC as a process and not only as a final outcome, and thus, to better manage these tensions so
that they contribute to product and process performance.
Keywords: collaboration; Green Certifications; innovation; sustainable development; project management.
Introduction
It is now widely accepted that the building sector is
significantly responsible for environmental degradation
(Huovila, 2007; Kibert, 2007; Ding, 2008). Following
common trends in other sectors, the construction
industry is thus increasingly called on to change com-
mon practices and to adopt sustainable development
(SD) principles and practices, which require increased
innovation in construction processes and outcomes.
Even though this has led to an increased interest in
Green Building Certifications (GBCs) (Berardi,
2012), it is often argued that the construction sector
is still far from achieving the levels of innovation found
in other sectors such as aerospace or manufacturing
(Toole et al., 2013). The traditional divisions between
professions and organizations and the fragmentation
that characterizes both construction projects and the
building industry are seen as barriers to innovation
(Harty, 2005). In response, authors such as Toole
et al.(2013) argue that stakeholder collaboration must
be enhanced to increase innovation in the construction
industry. This claim echoes findings by Dulaimi et al.
(2003) and Miozzo and Dewick (2004) who believe
that inter-organizational collaboration is crucial for
effective innovation. This argument, however, often
underestimates the tensions that can occur, for
instance, between stakeholders’ interest in collabora-
tion (which enhances the interaction needed in com-
plex problem-solving situations) and the competitive
advantage that is obtained from the exploitation of
innovations in competitive markets (Hutter et al.,
2011).
Within this context, it can be expected that the
recent adoption of GBCs has significantly influenced
the construction industry (Fergusson and Langford,
2006; Pitt et al., 2009) and the processes of collabora-
tion and innovation. However, the extent and
*Author for correspondence. E-mail: bj.herazo.cueto@umontreal.ca
©2015 Taylor & Francis
Construction Management and Economics, 2015
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01446193.2015.1047879
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influence of this impact remain to be demonstrated
and fully understood (US Green Building Council
Research Committee, 2008; Ofori-Boadu et al.,
2012).
In order to fill this gap, it is proposed to examine
how GBCs influence the processes of collaboration
and innovation in architecture projects. The first sec-
tion of the paper presents a review of pertinent
literature on the relationship between SD and the
building sector, including stakeholders’ interests in
adopting GBCs and explains the main factors that
influence the processes of innovation and collabora-
tion. The second section introduces the research
methods and analytical framework, based on the
models proposed by Toole et al.(2013) and Bossink
(2007a). The results section confronts the framework
adopted by the study with empirical evidence
obtained from case studies, explaining the four ten-
sions found. Finally, the limitations are presented
and practical and theoretical implications of the
results provided.
Sustainable development (SD) in the building
sector
The building sector must respond to escalating
pressure emerging from regulatory obligations and the
concern of the population with the built environment’s
impact on greenhouse gas emissions, environmental
degradation, and natural resource and energy con-
sumption (L.B. Robichaud and V. Anantatmula,
2011). The building sector has, according to Huovila
(2007), significant potential to become more profitable,
less environmentally intensive, and more efficient in
terms of its use of resources. Following this trend,
authors coined the term ‘sustainable construction’ (Hill
and Bowen, 1997; Du Plessis, 2007) in the 1980s to
describe the increased focus on SD implementation in
all the phases of the building process, from scope
definition to final deconstruction and disposal (Tan
et al., 2011).
Despite calls for a holistic view, sustainable con-
struction approaches, and most sustainable assessment
Table 1 Summary of approaches found in the literature on SD, GBCs and their effects on collaboration and innovation (C&I),
the project organization and the project
Approach to Green Building
Certifications (GBCs) Characteristics of collaboration and
innovation (C&I) in each approach
Organizational and project
effects of adopting GBC(1) (2) (3)
Traditional status quo Conventional
practice
Does not fully adopt the
objective of SD but might use
GBCs as a marketing tool
C&I are not
sufficiently
achieved
Emphasis on economic
benefits at the firm level and
in the short term
Sustainability
paradigm
Reform Green building Agrees with the objective of
SD and agrees that GBCs are
a tool to achieve sustainable
interventions
C&I is a tool
to achieve
incremental
performance
Emphasis on economic and
environmental performance,
considered mostly at the
project level, in the short term
and as a tool to improve the
firm’s image
Sustainable
building
Agrees with the objective of
SD but believes that GBCs do
not necessarily lead to
sufficient performance
C&I is a
prerequisite
for
important
changes
Performance is considered at
a collective level and in the
medium term, improving
collective interests and image
Transformation Sustainable
design
Agrees with the objective of
SD but does not believe that
GBCs are a tool to achieve
sustainable interventions
C&I is
necessary
beyond the
scale of the
project
Interested in holistic
performance at a community
level and the urban and
regional scales (and in the
long term)
Outcast Restorative,
reconciliatory,
&
regenerative
design
Disagree with the objectives
of SD and GBCs, aiming
instead at higher levels of
responsibility and
engagement with society and
nature
C&I should
lead to
alternative
paradigms
Non-conformist
Note: Approaches: (1) Peacock (1996) (2) Hopwood et al.(2005) (3) Reed (2007).
2Herazo and Lizarralde
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methods, have often provided a disproportionate focus
on one of the three dimensions of SD, namely, the envi-
ronmental dimension (Berardi, 2012). Adopting a lim-
ited view of sustainability, the dominant measure of
sustainable construction in developed countries has
become energy consumption (Kibert, 2007), with only
sparse attention given to other social, economic, and
environmental dimensions (Najam and Cleveland,
2003). This has led many specialists to recognize that
SD defenders do not constitute a homogeneous group
and that there are rather different approaches that pro-
ject stakeholders assume with regard to SD.
Even though there is almost a consensus on the
importance of SD (see some exceptions in Table 1),
there is less agreement on what the interests of stake-
holders to adopt SD in their project decision-making
are. Hopwood et al.(2005), therefore, propose a map-
ping technique to identify and examine different
approaches to SD. These authors provide a map of
the principal trends within SD debates based on two
main axes: socio-economic and environmental. The
model then identifies three approaches to change: (1)
status quo (no change is desired); (2) reform (incre-
mental approaches are desirable); and (3) transforma-
tion (radical changes are required). Focusing on the
trajectory of the practice of sustainability, Reed
(2007) proposes three learning levels: the first corre-
sponds to the greening level (efficiency); the second
can be seen to align with the sustainability level (effec-
tiveness); and the third addresses an evolving under-
standing of the whole, namely, the reconciliation and
regeneration levels. These three levels are divided into
five stages (see Table 1). Other authors like Peacock
(1996) recognize the existence of an ‘outcast’ position,
in which he places authors who reject both the sustain-
able and other development paradigms (Stiglitz, 1998).
Table 1summarizes the literature in this field and
notably the categories explained above. It links them
analytically with stakeholders’ approaches to GBCs,
which will be further discussed in the next section. It
also summarizes the role of collaboration and innova-
tion in each approach and the effects on the project
and the organization. The table might look to some
readers like an oversimplification of common trends,
but it summarizes how common literature finds that
GBCs and collaboration and innovation fulfil different
roles in each of the approaches to SD, suggesting
hypotheses of relationships that are to be tested empiri-
cally. At this point it is necessary to emphasize that a
‘green building’ is not the equivalent of ‘sustainable
construction’ or ‘sustainable development’. There is
no single, widely accepted definition of ‘green building’,
but most authors agree (and some regret) that it focuses
only on one or two dimensions of SD, (with focus on
reduction of energy and resource consumption) while
sustainable construction includes the interactions
between the three dimensions proposed by the
Brundtland (1987) report, namely the social, economic
and environmental dimensions.
Green Building Certifications
Green Building Certifications emerged in the early
1990s (Pe
´rez-Lombard et al., 2009) to propose a
methodological framework to measure and monitor
both the environmental performance of buildings and
the building process itself (Ofori-Boadu et al., 2012).
Like other environmental assessment methods, they
have helped to create awareness among stakeholders
and users (Ding, 2008) and have become a powerful
way to show stakeholders’ commitment to SD.
Building Research Establishment Environmental
Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) became one of
the first widely used building assessment methods and
was implemented in the 1990s in the UK. Since then,
other methods and tools have been developed, focusing
on particular contexts of energy use and building sector
interests. They include for example: Haute Qualite
´
Environnementale (HQE) in France, Comprehensive
Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency
(CASBEE) in Japan, Green Star in Australia and LEED
in the US and Canada. This first group of methods con-
centrates on what Markelj et al.(2013) call ‘green build-
ings’. The authors also recognize that there is a second
generation of assessment methods such us the European
Label for Environmental, Social and Economic Build-
ings (LEnSE) and the German Sustainable Building
Council (DGNB) that include the entire lifecycle and
economic, socio-cultural and technical aspects. In these
cases the authors refer to ‘sustainable buildings’.
Despite this diversity, the programme Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), created
in 1998 by the United States Green Building Council
(USGBC), is probably the most popular method and
tool in the world: there are more than 52 000 LEED
certified buildings around the world (US Green Build-
ing Council Research Committee, 2008).
Additionally, international institutions such as the
International Organization for Standardization (ISO),
the European Committee for Standardization (CEN)
and the International Code Council (ICC), have made
efforts to define standard requirements for assessment
of buildings (Mateus and Braganc¸a, 2011) allowing
for a wider interpretation and implementation of
general SD principles.
Regardless of the method chosen by the client,
obtaining a GBC typically implies additional costs that
must be evaluated against its benefits. From an economic
perspective, Eichholtz et al.(2010) identify at least four
elements that must be taken into account: (1) energy
Green building certifications 3
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efficiency, (2) employee productivity, (3) corporate
image, and (4) longer economic lives. From the environ-
mental point of view, several authors (L. Robichaud and
V. Anantatmula, 2011; Zuo and Zhao, 2014) agree that
energy and water efficiency, as well as waste and carbon
emission reductions are, among others, the main benefits
of GBCs. Other authors such as Thatcher and Milner
(2012) go even further to include the physical and psy-
chological benefits for employees. They all often agree
that the long-term benefits are greater than the short-
term costs involved in obtaining the GBC.
Green Project-Champions
Due to increasing demands for GBCs, SD projects
typically need a project champion to coordinate and
integrate a variety of stakeholders. They are often called
‘Green Project-Champions’: that is, an agent who influ-
ences and mobilizes other stakeholders in project deci-
sion-making processes (Gattiker and Carter, 2010).
Project champions remove cooperation barriers between
projects and clients, making innovative ideas viable and
desirable for stakeholders (Hartmann, 2008). Howell
and Higgins (1990) contend that champions generally
have personality characteristics of risk-taking propensity
and innovativeness. Besides, they often assume (or are
assigned) an integration role that facilitates communica-
tion and negotiation to achieve consensus among
stakeholders (Lizarralde et al., 2014).
This champion, according to Bayraktar and Owens
(2010), can also be a team that includes the owner or
representative, the engineer, the architect, and the con-
struction manager or general contractor; this is typically
called a ‘green team’. Regularly, the member most
experienced in GBCs becomes the team leader. Simi-
larly, Pauget and Wald (2013) find that organizations
in the building sector require a relational competence
actor such as a coordinator, gatekeeper or media-
tor/translator. They engage in proactive and dedicated
behaviours, and are thus central figures for both collab-
oration and innovation within and/or between organiza-
tions (Lizarralde et al., 2014). Finally, Bossink (2007b,
p. 146) also finds that these champions (which he calls
‘managers of innovative sustainable building projects’)
become also significant leaders of knowledge manage-
ment; we will go back to this aspect in the results section.
Innovation and collaboration in building
projects
According to Toole et al.(2013, p. 33),
Innovation is the act of introducing a significant
improvement in a process, product, or system that is
novel to the organisation, may cause individuals to view
things differently, and results in competitive advantage,
increased value for the client or benefit to stockholders.
These improvements are often seen in terms of the
value they create for a wide range of stakeholders,
including clients, users, manufacturers, regulators,
and providers (Blayse and Manley, 2004). Innovation
involves many stakeholders and progress by a sequence
of decisions made in the midst of uncertainty (Akrich
et al., 1988).
Building on the definition proposed by Aouad et al.
(2010), Lizarralde et al.(2014) argue that innovation is
asubjective perception of the emergence and adoption of
changes that provide value to a variety of stakeholders.
This definition rejects the notion that innovation is an
objective attribute of the product or the process,
emphasizing its subjective character and connecting
its legitimacy with the value that stakeholders perceive
in the change that is being introduced.
The nature of the project often determines the type
of strategy that is adopted to achieve innovation. For
instance, Artto et al.(2008, p. 52) state that
‘autonomous projects can set their goals and plans in
a self-directed manner, without major interference
from their parent organization’. Such choices may
relate, for example, to inter-organizational approaches
including inter-firm alliances (Lloyd-walker et al.,
2014) or collaborative activities with suppliers (Meehan
and Bryde, 2011).
Collaboration, coordination and cooperation are
often used as interchangeable terms. However, some
authors highlight relevant differences between them
(Calamel et al., 2012). For instance, whereas coordina-
tion and cooperation are often characterized by infor-
mal relationships that exist without a commonly
defined mission, structure or effort, collaboration is
often perceived as a higher level of integration that
requires more durable relationships between stakehold-
ers that share similar responsibility and authority in the
project (Viel et al., 2012).
It is often expected that the challenges of sustain-
able construction imply not only technological changes
but also significant improvements in stakeholder
interaction. GBCs require, according to Cole (1999,
p. 231), ‘greater communication and interaction
between members of the design team and various
sectors with the building industry’. Nonetheless, several
barriers seem to constrain these improvements.
Construction projects are conducted by temporary
groups (called temporary multi-organizations or
TMOs) (Cherns and Bryant, 1984) that restrict the
creation of long-term inter-organizational collabora-
tion. Additionally, organizational fragmentation and the
low level of investment in research and development in
4Herazo and Lizarralde
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the construction sector are seen as significant barriers
to effective innovation (Dulaimi et al., 2002). The
following section will examine the organizational
characteristics that promote innovation.
Key areas that influence innovation and
collaboration processes
Despite their need to maintain business relevance in
the long term, innovation is not sufficiently adopted
as a strategic goal by most construction organizations
(Dulaimi et al., 2002). Given that fragmentation
(between professions and organizations) typically
obstructs innovative changes (Harty, 2005),
Gambatese and Hallowell (2011) identify six key
elements that enhance innovation and collaboration
in the building sector: (1) owner vision; (2) funding
from the owner; (3) contractor input during the
design phase; (4) overlap of the project phases; (5)
innovation ‘champion’; and (6) co-location of the
design team. Similarly, Toole et al.(2013) propose
a maturity model that allows construction organiza-
tions to evaluate and improve their innovation
capabilities. Table 2presents the key areas that are
considered in the study and the statements that
describe them.
Inter-organizational relationships
Fragmentation not only hinders innovation (Dulaimi
et al., 2003), but also hinders knowledge creation and
use within and between projects and firms (Miozzo and
Dewick, 2004). Intense inter-organizational relation-
ships are therefore crucial for achieving innovation
(Dulaimi et al., 2003; Miozzo and Dewick, 2004).
Bossink (2007a) proposes an eight-stage model of
how inter-organizational innovation can be effectively
achieved (see Table 3). He examines governmental
organizations and commercial firms in the Dutch resi-
dential building sector and finds that they seek a bal-
ance between the exploration and exploitation of
innovations, and between collaboration and competition.
Together, they constitute two tensions that will be dis-
cussed in the results section. It is important to note,
however, that inter-organizational innovation processes
are not necessarily linear and consecutive (Aouad et al.,
2010).
In order to analyse the influence of GBCs in collab-
oration and innovation processes, an analytical frame-
work was created that adopted the models proposed
by Toole et al.(2013) and Bossink (2007a). Priority
was given to these models because they can be easily
applied to different management levels (including not
only inter-organizational relationships, but also internal
strategic and tactical management levels, which play a
crucial role in collaboration and innovation). Whereas
the strategic level focuses on the broader and long-term
orientations of the organization (including its vision,
mission, objectives and plans) (Chinowsky and Byrd,
2001), the tactical level concerns the short-term goals
and processes that occur within the project duration
(DiVanna and Austin, 2004). The next section shows
how this theoretical framework is applied to the case
studies.
Table 2 Key areas that influence innovation processes in construction organizations proposed by Toole et al. (2013)
Key areas Subjects/themes
Organizational processes Clear innovation strategy (mission/vision)
Coordinated decision-making process
Emphasis on project-level decision-making processes
Resource allocation Personnel explicitly tasked and specialized
Specific budget allocation
Risk perspective Consideration of schedules and budgets for innovation processes
Client/owner tolerance of risk
Culture Openness to new ideas and processes
Cooperation across departments
External feedback
Ability to balance short-term efficiency and adaptation
Customer focus Focus on satisfying the needs of the client/owner
Learning Efficient knowledge management system to support organizational learning
Collaboration Effective contractor input during the design phase
Efficient stakeholder communication
Integrated supply chain
Leadership Long-term and holistic view of the process
Presence of at least one project champion
Green building certifications 5
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Research methods
Investigating the influence of GBCs in collaboration and
innovation processes requires crossing boundaries
between the project management, the organization and
the built environment fields. This exploratory research
thus included three main steps: (1) a comprehensive
literature review on project management, sustainable
construction, GBCs, innovation and collaboration; (2)
a series of general interviews with construction stake-
holders; and (3) applying an analytical framework to
three detailed case studies (Yin, 2003).
A total of 19 participants were interviewed in the
research. For the second step, seven stakeholders were
asked to present their general perceptions and knowl-
edge about SD practices and their influence on project
processes. A semi-structured interview protocol and the
long interview technique (Woodside, 2010) were used,
and the results confirmed that stakeholders do adopt
different approaches towards SD and GBCs (confirm-
ing the hypotheses found in literature and presented
in Table 1). The interviews allowed building and vali-
dating the constructs used in the analytical framework,
notably the pertinence of examining the links between
GBCs and collaboration and innovation practices.
In the next step, the multi-lens analytical framework
was applied to three selected case studies. Selection of
construction projects was based on the fulfilment of
the following characteristics: (1) adoption of a Green
Building Certification (LEED), given that the study
was conducted in Canada; (2) launched by institutional
clients (namely by large and complex organizations that
may operate with mixed capital, private and public); (3)
developed by secondary client/owners, that is, organiza-
tions that require buildings to enable them to house
and undertake their own main activities; (4) projects
with a significant engagement with SD; and (5) devel-
oped within last three years, this in order to have suffi-
cient access to data, reports and stakeholders. In this
step, 12 project stakeholders were asked to describe
organizational aspects related to green certification
processes. Table 4summarizes the respondents inter-
viewed in the second and third steps of the study.
Table 5presents the eight questions (focusing on
green certification processes) that were proposed to
the 12 case-related interviewees in order to identify
the intra-organizational relationships that influence
innovation processes in each case study. All the inter-
views lasted between 40 and 120 minutes and were
recorded.
Table 3 The inter-organizational innovation processes of sustainable building (Bossink, 2007a, p. 4088)
Stage Interaction patterns of building innovation in sustainability
1. Autonomous innovation Innovate autonomously
Manage their innovation portfolio and
Protect their innovations
2. Networking Choose or are forced to innovate
Prefer to work with well-known partners and
Realize an influential position in the innovative network
3. Exploration Explore the costs and revenues of cooperation
Determine which expertise is needed and
Develop a cooperative portfolio
4. Formation Negotiate the costs and incomes
Enter into contracts and
Develop innovation plans
5. Organization Establish a joint organization
Establish control bodies and
Develop a green architectural blueprint
6. Planning Allocate expertise
Facilitate cooperation and communication and
Start innovation development
7. Co-innovation Coordinate innovation realization
Renegotiate over the costs and incomes and
Sell to the market and meet profitability targets
8. Dismantling Dismantle the joint organization
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Data obtained by the interviews was complemented
by the analysis of project documents (see Table 6), 16
visits to the projects, photos, plans, and project reports,
including ‘construction progress meetings’ (Gorse and
Emmitt, 2009). Once the information for each case
study was completed, the analytical framework was
applied in two phases. The first phase included the
analysis of the key areas of innovation as suggested by
Toole et al.(2013) and an analysis of the common
innovative practices at the inter-organizational level fol-
lowing the model proposed by Bossink (2007a). The
original model emphasized the consecutive sequence
of stages; however, a modification of the model was
proposed to include iterative and non-linear sequences.
In the second phase, the data was confronted with four
controversial push-and-pull factors previously identi-
fied in the literature review: bottom-up or top-down
participatory processes (Fraser et al., 2006); long-term
and short-term efficiency (Eriksson et al., 2013); indi-
vidual and collective approaches (Fellows and Liu,
2013); and competition and collaboration (Branden-
burger and Nalebuff, 1998). It therefore became
preferable to present the results in the form of four ten-
sions that occur within the project process.
Table 4 Stakeholders interviewed in each case study
Actor General interviews Case A Case B Case C
Client/owner 1 1 1 1
Users 1 1 1 1
Architects 1 1 1
General contractors 1 1
LEED consultants 1 1
Project managers 2 1 1
Table 5 Questions posed about key areas that influence innovation processes, based on Toole et al. (2013)
Area Related question proposed in the research
Organizational
processes
How was the SD strategy applied at organizational and project decision-making levels?
Resource allocation Was there a budget and staff explicitly assigned to obtain the green certification?
Risk perspective Did the client/owner consider green certifications risky?
Culture Was the organizational environment open to new ideas, processes, and internal and external feedback in a
long-term perspective?
Customer focus How did design teams focus on satisfying client/owner needs?
Learning How was knowledge transferred from one project to the next?
Collaboration Which mechanisms were used to communicate, coordinate and collaborate within internal and external
stakeholders?
Leadership Was a Green Project-Champion assigned to the project?
Table 6 Documents analysed in each case study
Document Case A Case B Case C
Client/owner strategic plans X X X
Client/owner SD plans and programmes X X X
Client/owner annual reports X X X
Public consultation processes X
Website information X X X
Project meeting proceedings X X
Project files (drawings, descriptions) X X
Case study report from research group X X
Case study report from green building site X X X
Newspapers and magazine articles X X X
Green building certifications 7
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Results
Key innovation areas and inter-organizational
processes influenced by green certifications
Table 7describes the main characteristics of the three
projects examined as case studies. The first step was
to explore how the key innovation areas identified by
Toole et al.(2013) were influenced by the green
certification processes in the three selected projects. A
summary of the main statements and arguments in
each area is presented in Table 8.
The second analytical tool explored how organiza-
tions interact with each other when conducting innova-
tion processes within a certified project lifetime. The
study revealed that organizations do not necessarily
follow the consecutive and linear sequence of Bossink’s
model (2007a). Table 9summarizes the aspects that
stood out in each case given the eight stages of the origi-
nal model. A more detailed analysis of each case follows.
Project tensions that influence collaboration and
innovation
As expected, different (sometimes contradictory)
answers among stakeholders were obtained, sometimes
even within a single project. Crossing the results from
Tables 8and 9, at least 12 concepts or forces stand
out. Eight of these concepts were found to be contra-
dictory or complementary and thus four pairings were
formed. By confronting these answers with the litera-
ture, four tensions that represent push-and-pull factors
within collaboration and innovation practices were
established. The following section explains each
tension. As we shall see, how these tensions are
negotiated by stakeholders has an influence in project
performance during the green certification process.
Figures 1, 2 and 3illustrate the four tensions
(numbered 1 to 4 according to the text above) in the
structure of the temporary multi-organization (TMO)
that emerged in the three projects. The figures show
the principal stakeholders grouped in two axes: the left
vertical axis classifies the stakeholder roles and the hori-
zontal axis distinguishes the client/owner and the exter-
nal stakeholders. The vertical axis also distinguishes
between the strategic and tactical levels of the TMO
(the operational level has not been included to facilitate
the reading of the project structure). The figures illus-
trate the different relationships between stakeholders.
The participants are also classified in five groups: the
control and funding institutions/organizations, the par-
ticipants directly involved in construction, the private
firms and the internal and external users. The Green
Project-Champions’ location is highlighted in order to
underline their importance and their team connections.
It must be noted that there is an overlap between the
strategic and tactical levels because some stakeholders
play different roles during the construction project.
Tension 1: strategic–tactical
The existing gap between strategic and tactical man-
agement in the building sector has attracted heated dis-
cussions in academia and practice. It has been found
that adapting the principles of long-term strategic man-
agement in a project-based and highly fragmented
industry meets with significant difficulties (Herazo
et al., 2012). Most of the decisions are typically made
Table 7 Summary of the main characteristics of three case studies retained for the research project
Characteristic Case study A Case study B Case study C
Type of client Government (education) NGO Government (cultural)
Main use Education & research Offices Museum & entertainment
Functional
programme
Offices, meeting rooms, laboratories,
classrooms, amphitheatre
Offices, meeting rooms,
exhibition rooms, boutique
Theatres, auditorium,
exhibition rooms, boutique,
administrative offices
Built area 4300m
2
in four levels 6500m
2
in five levels 8000m
2
in three levels
Cost 26 m CAN$ 17 m CAN$ 48 m CAN$
Design tender
process
Short invitation Short invitation International competition
Certification
achieved
LEED Gold LEED Platinum LEED Platinum
Date of
construction
2009–11 2009–11 2011–13
Main green
strategies
Collection and reuse of rainwater,
geothermal system for heating and air
conditioning
Geothermal heating,cooling
system, living wall,thermal
envelope, green roof
Collection and reuse of
rainwater, thermal envelope,
natural ventilation
Funding Public Private and public Public
8Herazo and Lizarralde
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at the strategic level, but leadership and motivation at
tactical levels are also required. However, given that
the most important challenges and opportunities for
innovation in building projects appear in the initial
project phases (Lizarralde et al., 2011), it is natural that
a variety of stakeholders participate early on in the pro-
cess at the strategic level. In the best of the cases, the
tactical level implements the strategy through project
development, whereas the operational level ensures
day-to-day procedures and reiterative practices within
the organization.
This tension is more evident in knowledge manage-
ment at project-based industries, where short-term
efficiency and long-term innovation are required to
achieve both exploitation of existing knowledge and
technologies and exploration of new knowledge and
technologies at the project level (Eriksson et al., 2013).
In the three cases of the green-certified projects, the
client/owners have a sustained engagement with SD at
the strategic level. Their vision and mission statements
clearly reflect the commitment to core principles fre-
quently found in SD literature. In case A, for instance,
the client/owner (an educational institution) includes
the SD principles in its vision and mission statements
and implements them in specific policies and
programmes. At the tactical level, faculty and staff mem-
bers develop activities and projects that promote SD
principles and practices. Similarly, the client/owner’s
mission statement in case B includes meeting and sharing
innovative ideas about SD and to be an inspiration to citizens
and industry leaders alike. At the tactical level, the
organizational strategy is implemented through educa-
tional activities that include conferences, seminars, facil-
ity visits and information sharing. It also engages the
community by accompanying and partnering with initia-
tives launched by enterprises and civil society groups. In
case C, the client/owner has a more horizontal organiza-
tional structure that facilitates and speeds up strategy
adoption at the tactical level (see Figure 3).
Nonetheless, mission statements alone can be mis-
leading because the adoption of SD principles operates
first in a ‘bottom-up’ manner (Eriksson et al., 2013),
which means that activities and actions are initially pro-
posed by employees (environmental management
departments in cases A and B) and later adopted by
the top management. Operational initiatives include
measures to reduce energy consumption and the sup-
pression of bottled water (a measure proposed by the
workers’ union in case A). Once mission statements
reflect SD principles, they are then adopted at project
decision-making levels (Herazo et al., 2012), and
controlled and enforced by GBCs.
All respondents mentioned sustainability as the
common value used at the early phases of the project.
Some general concepts were part of their first objectives
and goals (participation processes, urban integration,
Table 8 A summary of key areas analysed in the three case studies
Key areas Case study A Case study B Case study C
Organizational
processes
Top-down and bottom-up transfer
of SD expectations and needs
Top-down and bottom-up
transfer of SD expectations and
needs
Top-down and bottom-up transfer of
SD expectations and needs
Hierarchical organization Horizontal organization Horizontal organization
Resources
allocation
Budget and specific resources for
certification
Budget and specific resources for
certification
Budget and specific resources for
certification
Risk
perspective
Certification process is not
considered as a risk for top
management and users
Sustainable principles are seen as
an opportunity and as a risk
management tool
Certification process is not
considered as a risk for top
management and users
Culture Most participants engaged with
SD principles, which influence the
organization vision and mission
All participants engaged with SD
principles, which influence the
organization vision and mission
Most participants engaged with SD
principles, which influence the
organization vision and mission
Customer
focus
Additional external support Internal support Additional external support
Learning No evidence of formal learning
process
Specific educational project for
communication strategy
No evidence of formal learning
process in the TMO, but a learning
process existed within the design
team
Collaboration Alignment of strategic and tactical
objectives and interests
Integrated design approach Traditional but with integrated
design intention
Leadership Strategic Green Project-
Champion and Technical Green
Project-Champion
Three Green Project-Champions
at strategic, tactical and
operational levels
External Green Project-Champion
(engaged as a consultant)
Green building certifications 9
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or social integration, among others). However, stake-
holders have very different approaches to sustainability
(as found in Table 1). These approaches changed dur-
ing project phases, becoming increasingly weaker or
even disappearing in some cases.
In terms of collaboration, a main feature in case A
was the intense interaction between organizational
levels. This collaboration was facilitated by the main
researcher and the director of the centre, who created
a project committee composed of presidents and board
directors of the partner institutions that met at least
once a month. The project was conducted in partner-
ship with the provincial government, the university
and the botanical garden. Even though GBC processes
typically favour an integrated design approach, the
project was conducted in a traditional way, using a
design-bid-build procurement approach.
In case B, the integrated design approach used dur-
ing the design phase contributed to increase collabora-
tion among stakeholders and to involve the client/
owner in technical innovations. In case C, according
to the client/owner: ‘a very flat organization structure
allowed our partners to have a more fluid exchange of
information and direct communication, and finally to
achieve an acceptable level of collaboration’.
Respondents claim that the lack of formal docu-
mentation of the processes at the tactical level is a
significant barrier to improve sustainable practices in
the long run. This is despite the fact that there are
numerous forms and documents that must be filled
Table 9 Phases of the inter-organizational innovation processes that were implemented in the three case studies
Stage Case Study A Case Study B Case Study C
1. Autonomous
innovation
Innovate autonomously Innovate autonomously Innovate autonomously
Manage their innovation
portfolio
2. Networking Prefer working with well-
known partners
Realize an influential
position in the innovative
network
Choose to innovate
Realize an influential
position in the innovative
network
Choose to innovate
Realize an influential
position in the innovative
network
3. Exploration Determine which expertise
is needed
Explore the costs and
revenues of cooperation
Determine which expertise
is needed
Explore the costs and
revenues of cooperation
Determine which expertise
is needed
Develop a cooperative
portfolio
4. Formation • Enter into contracts • Develop innovation plans • Negotiate over the costs
and incomes
Enter into contracts and
Develop innovation plans
5. Organization Establish a joint
organization
Establish a control body
and
Develop a green
architectural blueprint
Establish a joint
organization
Develop a green
architectural blueprint
6. Planning Allocate expertise Allocate expertise
Start innovation
development
Allocate expertise
Facilitate cooperation and
communication and
Start innovation
development
7. Co-innovation Coordinate innovation
realization
Renegotiate the costs and
incomes
Coordinate innovation
realization
Coordinate innovation
realization
Renegotiate over the costs
and incomes
8. Dismantling Dismantle the joint
organization
Dismantle the joint
organization
Dismantle the joint
organization
10 Herazo and Lizarralde
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out to obtain the GBC. These documents, however, do
not receive sufficient follow-up, making it difficult to
implement a comprehensive SD strategy with a long-
term influence in the organization. Unlike cases A
and C, integrated design in case B brought together
the client/owner, the design team and the green certi-
fication experts early on in the process and became an
opportunity to formalize learning. Additionally, the cli-
ent/owner developed a communication strategy to
explain the project design and building process to the
community. To achieve this learning goal, the client
appointed an experienced professional to systematically
record, follow and transmit the information that was
necessary to explain the integrated design process to
the general public. Stakeholders agree that the design
team learned about environmental issues from the
client/owner, and the client/owner learned about con-
struction management issues. Since the project
beginning, conferences and facility tours were
organized for professionals and community members,
explaining the main performance features of the build-
ing. When the building project finished, the client/
owner introduced the lessons learned as part of its
communication strategy.
Approaches to innovation are also different at the
strategic and tactical levels. Although client/owners in
cases A, B and C are complex, large organizations,
new ideas and changes in processes (in standards and
contracts, for instance) are welcomed by the top man-
agement level. Surprisingly, the tactical level, instead,
appears to be less open to change. One of the respon-
dents in case A exemplifies this pattern when he argues
that SD is ‘good for the environment but it implies
more work and documentation for us’.
Figure 4indicates how stakeholders’ expectations
and needs with regard to sustainability are transmitted.
There appears to be a top-down pressure to adopt sus-
tainable principles, emerging from financial and control
stakeholders and being transferred to the strategic level.
There is, however, also a bottom-up pressure emerging
from the operational level (notably users and staff)
exerted at the strategic level. The research results
revealed that in a second step, the procurement unit
translates these needs and expectations into contractual
Student organizations
Client/owner
Users
External
Participants Users
Internal Procurement Funding
& Control
Construction
Project
Staff
Green Project–Champion
Green Team members
Tensions
1. Strategic–Tactical
3. Participative–Effective
4. Individual–Collective
2. Collaborative–Competitive
Facu lty
Building
Management Office
University
Top Management
Provincial Government
&
Municipality
Community
Tactical
Strategic
Construction Group
Management Group
Consultants
Architecture Group
T
T3
T2
T4
T1
Figure 1 Tensions within the temporary multi-organization (TMO) of case study A
Green building certifications 11
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and certification requirements that are transferred to the
design group and the construction management team,
which together become the stakeholders responsible
for implementing sustainability (principles/strategies/
policies).
Tension 2: collaborative–competitive
It is widely accepted that in order to overcome the com-
plexity and fragmented nature of the building sector,
construction organizations need to work collabora-
tively. On the other hand, the imperatives of constant
technological improvement, uncertain economic condi-
tions and social pressure force construction organiza-
tions to be more competitive. The need to conciliate
collaboration and competition between organizations
(notably small and medium-size) has led many authors
to suggest new concepts such as coopetition (Branden-
burger and Nalebuff, 1998)orcommunitition (Hutter
et al., 2011), which reflect the common tension that
firms face in fragmented and competitive environ-
ments.
This tension is particularly strong in organizations
that embrace SD principles (and presumably GBCs).
Authors like Lozano (2008) argue that in spite of social
conceptions of competing and selfish individualistic
models, collaboration is the key element to help
organizations develop sustainability goals.
In case A, the size of the client/owner organization
made it difficult to implement the classic innovation
stages, notably because the strategic and operational
levels manage innovation processes differently (see
Figure 1). Because of this, exploration practices are
common, but they are not necessarily implemented.
However, the design team and the contractor have a
more structured system to follow innovation processes
from idea development to implementation. They nota-
bly rely on the analysis of the economic benefits of
implementing innovation practices. In cases B and C
it was noticed that almost all the stages proposed by
Users
External
Participants Users
Internal Procurement Funding
& Control
Construction
Project
Green ProjectChampion
Green Team members
Tensions
1. StrategicTactical
3. ParticipativeEffective
4. IndividualCollective
2. CollaborativeCompetitive
T
T2
T4
T1
T1
Real Estate / Developer
NGOs
Future tenants
Client/owner
Administration
Council
Sustainable Building
Office at institution
Institution Board
Federal and Provincial
Government
Private
Funds
Credit
Agencies
Tactical
Strategic
Construction group
Visitors and
general public
Management group
Consultants
Architecture group
Figure 2 Tensions within the temporary multi-organization (TMO) of case study B
12 Herazo and Lizarralde
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Bossink (2007a) were followed by the TMO, even
though not in a consecutive manner. Not all the design
and construction firms, however, participated in all the
stages. For instance, in case B, a learning process was
only implemented by the sustainable building office of
client/owner (see Figure 2).
In case C, a partnership was created between two
architecture design firms in the second phase of the
architectural contest. This joint venture created com-
petition between professionals of the two firms, but also
contributed to developing collaboration in two ways.
First, the transfer of previous experiences in green certi-
fications from the larger design firm to the other; and
second, the transfer of creativity and innovative ideas
from a small design firm to the large one. There was
also competition between stakeholders in case A, in
which there was constant work among internal and
external project managers. As anticipated by Bossink
(2007a), it was found that there was a constant search
for balance between competition and collaboration
between these project managers. One of the client
representatives in case A explained: ‘We try to find
the balance between rivalry and brotherhood in the
middle of the jungle’.
Tension 3: participative–effective
In a project-based sector like the construction industry,
a participatory process is often seen as a budget and
time-consumer. However, participation is considered
today as one of the most important factors for achieving
sustainability (Alshuwaikhat and Abubakar, 2008),
particularly in GBC projects. This tension between par-
ticipation in decision-making and effectiveness can be
found at different levels, particularly in the relationship
between end users and the design team, or between the
community and the client (Thompson and Green,
2005). The selection of architectural design, procure-
ment and contractual methods can influence the degree
of tension between stakeholders. In fact, the success of
stakeholder participation is dependent on the early
involvement of participants and their real capacity to
make decisions or change the course of action in the
project (Lizarralde et al., 2011). Nonetheless, if budget
Green ProjectChampion
Green Team members
Tensions
1. StrategicTactical
3. ParticipativeEffective
4. IndividualCollective
2. CollaborativeCompetitive
T
Users
External
Participants Users
Internal Procurement Funding
& Control
Construction
Project
T1
T2
T4
T3
Client/owner
Federal and Provincial
Government
Private
Funds
Municipality
Institution Board
Employees
Planetarium
Insectarium
Botanical Garden
Bio-dome
Tactical
Strategic
Construction group
Visitors and
general public
Management group
Consultants
Architecture group
Figure 3 Tensions within the temporary multi-organization (TMO) of case study C
Green building certifications 13
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and schedule are not established according to a stake-
holder participation plan, there are higher risks of addi-
tional costs and delays.
Furthermore, when developing the issue of sustain-
able building assessment tools, Kaatz et al.(2005) point
out that stakeholder participation allows professional
empowerment and permits stakeholders to share at
the same level their experience in sustainability orien-
tated decision-making. In this regard, the authors state
that stakeholders may select definitions that reflect their
own values and keep up the dialogue and the trans-
parency of decision-making for achieving consensus.
In case A, this tension became evident during the
design phase. Two different institutions (the university
and botanical garden) were, at same time, end users
and clients, and an external architectural firm was hired
for the design. The Building Management Office
(BMO) of one of the institutions served as a client/
owner, ensuring the coordination between stakeholders
and end users (see Figure 1). As a leader of the design
phase and also as a Green Project-Champion, the
architectural firm invited scientists, professors and staff,
from both institutions, to collaborate in specific meet-
ings. Unplanned requirements and spatial demands
were made during the process generating tension
between stakeholders; for example, one of the client/
owner representatives explained: ‘Although new ideas
and applications helped to improve the building, I do
not think the builders were happy to handle delays
and cost overruns’.
The tension in case B appeared in the integrated
design method used (see Figure 2). Stakeholders spent
one year and 52 meetings in the integrated design process
to bring out the most innovative ideas. However, for
some stakeholders, there were too many resources and
too much time invested given the results that were
achieved. One of the project participants explained: ‘…
you know: many meetings and I am not sure about the
benefit obtained’. On the other hand, for the client/
owner, this project was also an opportunity to strongly
influence the construction and design teams with SD
practices in a long-term perspective. ‘It is the first time
that I hear a project manager talking about the future con-
sumption of the building,’ said one of the participants.
Before the project began, the client/owner in case C
implemented an organizational culture that allowed
employees at every level to participate in the design
process. Collecting ideas, reviewing situations and,
notably, listening to every group within the organiza-
tion was an effective tool to improve solutions. ‘Even
the doorman suggested an idea about ventilation’
proudly remarked the client/owner. In this case, the
possible tension was handled and smoothed from the
beginning of the design phase, including a management
approach to empower employees to participate in
organizational decision-making.
Green ProjectChampion
Green Team members
Expectation
Internal Users
Perception of sustainability as a risk
(-)
(+)
(-)
Visitors and
General Public
External Users
Construction
Project
Participants
Funding
& Control
Client
Procurement
Unit or
Department
Client/owner
Tactical
Strategic
Contractual & Certification
Requirements
Figure 4 Sustainability pressure generated by needs and expectations of external stakeholders
14 Herazo and Lizarralde
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There are also other aspects that influenced all case
studies. Interviewees in the three cases agree that GBCs
modified the general budget between 10% and 20%. In
the three cases, however, the pressures explained above
led the client/owners to request a LEED certification
early on in the process. In order to balance the environ-
mental and economic objectives, both a budget and SD
consultants were included during the early phases
(feasibility and design) in all projects.
The three cases show different ways to conduct the
architectural design process, with more or less
participation by stakeholders. A ‘shortlist’ tendering
invitation (cases A and B) and an open competition
(case C) were launched to select the architecture firm.
The architects in cases A and B included LEED profes-
sionals in their groups to fulfil the certification process.
Client/owners in cases B and C decided to attain the
highest level in LEED certification, allocating addi-
tional resources to attain this objective. For instance,
the client/owner in case B conducted several interviews
to hire both consultants (engineers and designers) and
LEED professionals. It also required that the design
team have a serious commitment to social values. A cli-
ent representative in this project explained: ‘For our
project, design team selection was as important as the
construction site choice’. Since the tendering invita-
tion, the design group in case B was informed of the
LEED Platinum certification commitment. The cli-
ent/owner in case B opted to use ‘integrated design’
as the core method for the building process, integrating
all stakeholders from the beginning of the project. In
case C, the design team was informed of the green
certification requirement after passing the first stage
of preselection.
Tension 4: individual–collective
The tension between individualism and collectivism
has been studied for a long time in different fields of
knowledge. According to Hofstede et al.(2010, p. 92):
Individualism pertains to societies in which the ties
between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to
look after him- or herself and his or her immediate fam-
ily. Collectivism as its opposite pertains to societies in
which people from birth onward are integrated into
strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s
lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for
unquestioning loyalty.
Fellows and Liu (2013) maintain that construction in
particular has a tradition of individualism (and oppor-
tunistic behaviour) but also requires teamwork,
cooperation and partnering.
This tension is more visible when decision-making
takes place in sustainable building projects. It is well
known that societies and organizations that encourage
collective actions have a tendency to create and support
sustainability initiatives (Parboteeah et al., 2012). In
contrast, the building sector is very competitive and
encourages individualistic behaviours at the project
level (Fellows and Liu, 2013). Sustainable buildings
(and more specifically, GBCs) are developed with
fewer work team tensions when there is a real collective
organizational culture.
GBC processes show this tension, particularly in the
type of green team or champion that is deployed.
Client/owners might decide to hire a professional, cre-
ate a team or delegate this responsibility to an architec-
tural firm with the objective of aligning stakeholders
around SD principles. The description of Green Pro-
ject-Champions in each case helps understanding of
this tension.
There were two types of Green Project-Champions
in case A. On the one hand, there was a leader who
launched the project from the preconception phase
and took it to the operation phase, including fundrais-
ing. This project champion focused on the strategic
aspects of SD. On the other hand, a Green Project-
Champion focused on the tactical aspects of the GBC
process (see their locations in Figure 1). In case B,
three project champions existed within the client/owner
organization (see in Figure 2), each one with a specific
objective: (1) one of them, the client/owner director,
was responsible for achieving the green goals, finding
partners and funds; (2) the second one, an ecologist,
assumed a leadership role in challenging the design
team to achieve the highest level of standards; (3) the
third one, a project manager, acted as a team leader
responsible for delivering the project and balancing sus-
tainable and economic requirements. Despite having
been hired from the beginning, the LEED external con-
sultant was only responsible for dealing with adminis-
trative paperwork and never acted as a project-
champion. Similarly, the client/owner of case C hired
a professional (see Figure 3) to play the role of Green
Project-Champion, even before the architecture com-
petition was launched. The winner team of the design
tender was required to work with this previously
engaged Green Project-Champion, who, in advance,
had prepared a list of materials, heating methods, air
exchange, finishes, and other design solutions. The
project in case C was developed in the context of an
architecture competition. The project was developed
by the design group in close collaboration with the cli-
ent/owner. More precisely, this project can be consid-
ered to have what Lizarralde et al. consider a ‘Design
Green building certifications 15
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Integration Team’, Lizarralde et al.(2014,p.7)
explain: ‘Design consortiums seek to integrate profes-
sionals in order to respond to technical challenges
and complex demands in tendering processes. However
their collaborative approach can also serve other pur-
poses, including integrating stakeholder needs and
creating innovative solutions.’
The role of the Green Project-Champion helps to
reduce the tension between individualism and collec-
tivism, moving the organization project to a more col-
laborative environment. However, it is necessary to
consider individual risk perception to fully understand
this tension. In fact, individual risk perception influ-
ences the (collective) organizational approach that will
be implemented to achieve sustainability objectives.
GBC processes are, according to Ofori-Boadu et al.
(2012), risky for contractors and may result in delays,
strife, litigation, financial losses, damaged reputation
and reduced competitive advantage. Are these risks also
perceived by client/owners? Probably not, as the results
reveal that client/owners base resources for GBC think-
ing more on success than on failure. The client/owner
procurement unit in case A considers SD as a way of
managing risk. The project manager responsible for this
unit argued that ‘the more that you include sustainable
principles in the project, the less risks in the construc-
tion process’. In general, stakeholders at strategic and
operational levels in the three cases do not consider
GBCs risky; they rather consider them an opportunity.
‘The green roof was initially considered a risk, but
eventually became an opportunity to develop alterna-
tive technologies’ said one of the participants at the
tactical level in case B. In this case, the client/owner
was already used to seek a third-party certification for
construction projects. When it decided to build the
head office, the first step was to find the highest green
label to achieve and to assume a public commitment
to build the most sustainable building in Quebec. A
GBC was not a risk, but a way to have a third-party
certification confirming that these commitments were
actually achieved and to ‘reward’ the efforts made by
stakeholders. Client/owner leadership in case C
encouraged teams to propose new ideas and alternative
solutions to sustainable challenges. Arguably, this
approach could have generated risky situations in terms
of budget and schedule. The client/owner explained:
‘During the design meetings, many innovative and
costly ideas were born; but in the end we innovate
within budget’.
The right vertical axis in Figure 4illustrates the per-
ception of sustainability as a risk along the different
organizational levels. The results show that the tactical
level, in the three cases, perceived sustainability as a
risk. In contrast, the strategic and operational levels
identified it as an opportunity.
Discussion
The findings in the three case studies can be discussed
by means of analytical constructs presented in the form
of organizational tensions and by linking research
results to the key innovation conditions developed by
Toole et al.(2013) and the innovation stages proposed
by Bossink (2007a). As Pepper and Larson (2006) sug-
gest, tensions are a ubiquitous feature of organizations
capable of creating instability among stakeholders. This
research reveals four tensions that appear during GBC
processes. How they are managed by organization
members has positive or negative impacts on the
organizational and project performance, particularly
on innovation and collaboration processes. We believe
that this approach, one that avoids a normative view
of SD principles, may provide a more nuanced descrip-
tion of the influence of GBCs than what is often por-
trayed by common frameworks from the sustainable
construction field.
Leadership is by far the most influential factor in the
tensions found. The Green Project-Champion plays a
specific role in terms of smoothing organizational ten-
sions, particularly those originating in between the
strategic and tactical levels and between individual
and collective approaches to risk, innovation and
design. Regardless of its position in the TMO, the
Green Project-Champion is suited to interpret the SD
pressure that emerges from stakeholders and implement
it at a tactical and strategic level. Even though Green
Project-Champions are relatively new stakeholders in
construction TMOs, their role now includes not only
obtaining the points needed for GBC, but also generat-
ing a collaborative and innovative environment. Their
roles in strategic/tactical and collaborative/competitive
tensions are also decisive. Perception of such champi-
ons, however, is not always positive. Half of the project
managers interviewed perceived green teams as a
bureaucratic collector of documentation instead of
effective engines of innovation. The role of project man-
agers in achieving SD principles is sometimes perceived,
in turn, negatively by client/owners, who believe that
time and budget force project managers to make deci-
sions within short periods of time and thus, to opt for
fast and low-cost solutions. Although Green Project-
Champions are perceived as ‘yet another professional
or team’, results show that their functions have to be
anyhow assumed by someone in the project (either a
project manager or a designer).
The organizational tensions reveal that most phases
proposed by Bossink’s model were present, but they
were not necessarily implemented in a formal deliberate
plan. Innovation arose in these cases as a result of stake-
holders’ pressure to implement sustainable principles.
As experts believe (Miozzo and Dewick, 2004; Ayuso
16 Herazo and Lizarralde
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 18:36 03 June 2015
et al., 2006; Thuesen and Koch, 2011), innovation
emerged here as an engine for increasing performance
and competitiveness, but not in the linear manner
expected by Bossink (2007a). The three cases confirm
that client/owners have to be highly proactive in terms
of inter-organizational innovation processes to reduce
tensions between the strategic and tactical levels. Risk
aversion, on the other hand, led contractors, consultants
and project managers to be more reactive than proactive
and thus, to remain within comfort zones in terms of
organizational and financial decisions, increasing the
tension between individual responsibility and collective
strategy.
Several authors have presupposed that SD enhances
collaboration and innovation (Bossink, 2007a; Eid,
2009; Ofori-Boadu et al., 2012). As evidenced by Ten-
sion 1 (strategic–tactical), the research results reveal,
however, that the documentation procedures to formal-
ize and standardize sustainable practices and GBCs can
hinder innovative initiatives. Tools to achieve SD are
perceived differently at various organizational levels.
At the strategic level, the pressures from governments,
markets and community groups push the organization
strategic apex (term used after Mintzberg, 1980), to
not only adopt sustainable policies, but also enforce per-
formance specifications. GBC processes assume part of
this challenge. Even though stakeholders implement
GBCs according to their motivations and interests, it
is at the tactical level that specific requirements are
finally executed. For Green Project-Champions, proce-
dures and documentation required for GBCs are part of
a larger goal. By contrast, other stakeholders see them as
extra work with supplementary fees that, together,
increase organizational tensions. Additional studies
(Mathur et al., 2008;Ha¨kkinen and Belloni, 2011)
assume that SD projects also benefit from learning prac-
tices implemented during innovation processes. This
study found (particularly in Tensions 1 and 2), how-
ever, that this learning process is not sufficiently and
systematically documented and used for knowledge
capital development.
There are significant theoretical implications of this
study. First, this study proposes an analytical frame-
work that helps explain the influence of GBCs in
innovation and collaboration processes. Second, by
refusing to adopt a ‘greenwashing approach’, it helps
demystify the adoption of SD practices in the building
sector by analysing both its positive and negative influ-
ences in different processes and organizational levels.
Finally, through the identification of the key areas
and stages of innovation, the study validates common
tensions previously found in the literature, illustrating
processes and areas in which improvements are
required in practice.
There are also practical implications for these
results. First, they emphasize areas of improvement in
project management, notably by highlighting the gaps
that still exist in innovation implementation in a pro-
ject-based context. Second, by highlighting common
tensions, the results show how practitioners can inter-
vene in certain project phases and organizational levels
to improve project performance. Similarly, this frame-
work provides a better representation of the Green Pro-
ject-Champion, illustrating its role, status and
importance in SD initiatives. Along this line of aca-
demic and practical contributions, there are several
limitations in the study. First, the research focuses
mainly on LEED certifications. Other types of GBCs
need to be analysed. Second, the case studies were con-
centrated in a particular geographic and institutional
context. Future research could include other repre-
sentative cases (real estate projects, for instance) and
locations in order to validate, modify or refute the con-
clusions drawn here.
Conclusions
A green and/or sustainable building is by definition
innovative because it captures a set of procedures that
modify conventional construction practices to generate
added value for stakeholders, including users and the
community. GBCs imply a process where the client/
owner, design team and contractors meet to weigh their
capacities to respond to new challenges. However, to
attain GBCs, important management innovations have
to be conducted by the client/owner organization at
strategic, tactical and operational levels. In the same
manner, design teams and contractors need to engage
in innovative processes, systems, technologies, prod-
ucts and materials.
The four organizational tensions that emerge from
the analysis of the key innovation areas and the inter-
organizational processes show that important changes
were implemented at different levels after GBCs were
identified as project objectives. Client/owner engage-
ment is imperative in order to conduct the GBC pro-
cess, particularly a sustained engagement of intense
interaction and communication between management
levels. Specially assigned procurement methods, bud-
get control and human resources contribute to manage
risks involved in GBCs. Leadership styles help deter-
mine the level of tension between collaboration and
competition. Internal organizational culture and learn-
ing are crucial for innovation processes; however, this
study showed that they are not fully recognized by
client/owner organizations.
Green building certifications 17
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 18:36 03 June 2015
The figure of the Green Project-Champion plays a
significant role in the organizational tensions found in
this research. Its leadership can take different forms,
notably when considering that its role can be played
by an individual, a team or a specialized firm (internal
or external, strategic or tactical). The results of this
research allow one to infer that the earlier in the process
that this stakeholder participates, the more effective the
process of collaboration and innovation becomes and
the less risky these processes will be. This study con-
firms that collaboration is indeed a prerequisite for
innovation processes; however, it also shows that
even though GBC processes encourage client/owner
organizations to choose ‘integrated design’ procure-
ment methods, GBCs encourage collaboration regard-
less of the procurement strategy used. The analysis
also indicates that additional channels of communica-
tion between strategic and tactical levels are necessary
to achieve SD goals.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Funding
Groupe de recherche IF (GRIF) [Grant Number PARTICIP:
Partenariat pour l’Analyse et la Rech].
ORCID
Benjamin Herazo http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8605-8147
Gonzalo Lizarralde http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6645-9269
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... However, to achieve the sustainability goals, it must be considered that building design is the IOP Publishing doi: 10.1088/1755-1315/1101/5/052015 2 result of the interaction among different professionals from different firms. Each firm has its own structure, culture, procedures, and tools creating tensions that should be identified and managed to improve processes and products [3,4]. ...
... Those approaches are dynamic and create tensions impacting the initial project goals, project planning and design phases. [3] found that processes in green building projects are influenced by four tensions that can either enhance or hinder collaboration and innovation: strategic-tactical, collaborative-competitive, participative-effective and individual-collective. Those tensions should be managed, contributing to the product and process performance. ...
... That first scenario probably explains the designers' frustration since their motivations towards sustainable design [14] have been affected. That also indicates tensions [3,4] among designers and developers affecting how sustainability is considered in the design solutions, especially as an intrinsic aspect of the product. In addition, the project delivery system does not seem to provide the suitable needed collaboration for sustainable designs, as remarked by [1,9,13]. ...
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Full-text available
Sustainability demands have changed the building design nature, which gained complexity due to the increased diversity of requirements, activities, agents, and tools. Building Information Modeling (BIM) has a potential to contribute to sustainability enabling the building integrated design, performance simulations, life cycle assessment and information use throughout the building life cycle. The aim of this paper is to investigate the sources of challenges in the relation between architectural and engineering (AE) design firms and clients (developers or private individuals) for promoting sustainability in the building design. Also, it is investigated if BIM has been implemented by the firms and how it relates to management and sustainability. The research method adopted is qualitative and participatory based on focus groups. Two groups were interviewed: eight AE design firms and six developers and/or construction companies. Analysing the research findings, the sources of challenges that were identified are the lack of definition and communication about the stakeholders’ sustainability approach; the lack of a more detailed design scope and required qualifications by the clients, but also the lack of business management and firm’s performance evaluation processes by designers; the traditional project delivery systems, traditional work relationships, tools and processes that do not support the collaboration needs. In addition, AE design firms’ organization affects the client relationship and design quality including the consideration of sustainability issues in the design solutions. The sources are found in the AE design firm’s processes of strategy planning, business and marketing, design, people, and knowledge management. So, further research will be carried out about managerial and organizational capabilities of AE design firms for sustainability and BIM.
... However, to achieve the sustainability goals, it must be considered that building design is the result of the interaction among different professionals from different firms. Each firm has its own structure, culture, procedures, and tools creating tensions that should be identified and managed to improve processes and products [3,4]. ...
... Those approaches are dynamic and create tensions impacting the initial project goals, project planning, and design phases. Processes in green building projects are influenced by four tensions that can either enhance or hinder collaboration and innovation: strategic-tactical, collaborative-competitive, participative-effective, and individual-collective [3]. Those tensions should be managed, contributing to the product and process performance. ...
... That first scenario probably explains the designers' frustrations since their motivations toward sustainable design [20] have been affected. That also indicates tensions [3,4] among designers and developers affecting how sustainability is considered in the design solutions, especially as an intrinsic aspect of the product. In addition, the project delivery system does not seem to provide the suitable needed collaboration for sustainable designs, as remarked by [1,15,19]. ...
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Full-text available
Sustainability demands have changed the building design nature increasing the diversity of requirements, activities, agents, and tools. The aim of this paper is to investigate the sources of challenges in the relationship between architectural and engineering (AE) design firms and clients for promoting sustainability in the building design. Additionally, this study investigated the building information modeling (BIM) deployment by the firms that supports sustainability. The research method adopted is qualitative and participatory, based on focus groups. Two groups were interviewed, eight AE design firms and six developers and/or construction companies, gathering the points of view of service providers and their clients. The identified sources of challenges around sustainability include lack of communication and imprecision of definition, requirements, and scope. Additionally, management issues include performance evaluation, traditional work relationships, tools, and processes that do not support collaboration needs. In addition, AE design firms’ organization affects the client relationship and design quality, including the consideration of sustainability issues in the design solutions. The sources are found in the AE design firm’s processes of strategy planning, business and marketing, design, people, and knowledge management.
... However, to achieve the sustainability goals, it must be considered that building design is the result of the interaction among different professionals from different firms. Each firm has its own structure, culture, procedures, and tools creating tensions that should be identified and managed to improve processes and products [3,4]. ...
... Those approaches are dynamic and create tensions impacting the initial project goals, project planning and design phases. [3] found that processes in green building projects are influenced by four tensions that can either enhance or hinder collaboration and innovation: strategic-tactical, collaborative-competitive, participative-effective and individual-collective. Those tensions should be managed, contributing to the product and process performance. ...
... That first scenario probably explains the designers' frustration since their motivations towards sustainable design [14] have been affected. That also indicates tensions [3,4] among designers and developers affecting how sustainability is considered in the design solutions, especially as an intrinsic aspect of the product. In addition, the project delivery system does not seem to provide the suitable needed collaboration for sustainable designs, as remarked by [1,9,13]. ...
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Sustainability demands have changed the building design nature, which gained complexity due to the increased diversity of requirements, activities, agents, and tools. Building Information Modeling (BIM) has a potential to contribute to sustainability enabling the building integrated design, performance simulations, life cycle assessment and information use throughout the building life cycle. The aim of this paper is to investigate the sources of challenges in the relation between architectural and engineering (AE) design firms and clients (developers or private individuals) for promoting sustainability in the building design. Also, it is investigated if BIM has been implemented by the firms and how it relates to management and sustainability. The research method adopted is qualitative and participatory based on focus groups. Two groups were interviewed: eight AE design firms and six developers and/or construction companies. Analysing the research findings, the sources of challenges that were identified are the lack of definition and communication about the stakeholders’ sustainability approach; the lack of a more detailed design scope and required qualifications by the clients, but also the lack of business management and firm’s performance evaluation processes by designers; the traditional project delivery systems, traditional work relationships, tools and processes that do not support the collaboration needs. In addition, AE design firms’ organization affects the client relationship and design quality including the consideration of sustainability issues in the design solutions. The sources are found in the AE design firm’s processes of strategy planning, business and marketing, design, people, and knowledge management. So, further research will be carried out about managerial and organizational capabilities of AE design firms for sustainability and BIM.
... This concept innovates and influences sustainable construction approaches in the building sector. Herazo and Lizarralde (2015) sate, "the building sector must respond to escalating pressure emerging from regulatory obligations and the concern of the population with the built environment's impact on greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation, and natural resource and energy consumption". Green building certifications give the companies a methodological framework, where it is important to separate the meaning between green building and sustainable construction. ...
... Green building certifications give the companies a methodological framework, where it is important to separate the meaning between green building and sustainable construction. Herazo & Lizarralde (2015) explain this difference in the following quote: "It is necessary to emphasize that a 'green building' is not the equivalent of 'sustainable construction' or 'sustainable development'. There is no single, widely accepted definition of 'green building', but most authors agree (and some regret) that it focuses only on one or two dimensions of Sustainable Development, (with a focus on reduction of energy and resource consumption) while sustainable construction includes the interactions between the three dimensions, namely the social, economic and environmental dimensions". ...
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... Recently, several studies have discussed collaboration in green building under various aspects, such as bilateral cooperation between universities and industries [67], the optimization of collaboration networks in green building projects [68] and the influence of building certification systems on cooperation and innovation in architectural projects [69]. All these studies have identified the importance of inter-organizational cooperation. ...
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... At the same time, designers are often supposed to be able to possess the knowledge and creative capacity, and flexibility. However, collaboration is an integration level where stakeholders share similar responsibilities and collaborate to achieve the expected target [117]. To foster such an atmosphere, best practices would recommend that all team members be required to form a team early in the project [118]. ...
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