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Boyd, P and Schweber, L (2018) Unintended consequences: institutional artefacts, closure mechanisms and the performance gap. Building Research & Information, 46(01), 10–22.
- Type: Journal Article
- Keywords: closure mechanisms; energy performance; innovation; performance gap; renewable technology; social construction of technology (SCOT); socio-technical; system integration;
- ISBN/ISSN: 0961-3218
- URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2017.1331096
Renewable technologies often feature in policies to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Designers introduce predicted energy values for specific technologies, but are surprised when the technologies fail to perform as expected. Three building projects are used to explore the effect of construction processes on the energy performance of building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology. In two cases BIPV failed to deliver expected energy generation, while in the third, dramatic changes in project processes and technical specifications were needed to achieve the specified output. A social construction of technology (SCOT) analysis documents how the energy generation of BIPV disappeared from view at certain points as actors focused on building features. A contribution is made to the theoretical development of SCOT by responding to two issues: privileging of cognitive closure mechanisms and the neglect of institutional analysis. The concept of inflection mechanisms is introduced as a second type of closure mechanism. More specifically, the role of institutional artefacts (e.g. planning requirements and schedules) in the construction process is found to contribute to the performance gap. To reduce the ‘performance gap’, practitioners need to focus on the distribution of design responsibility, sequencing of work and the location of expertise.