Unlocking Grey Scientific Data on Resident Behaviour to Increase the Climate Impact of Dutch Sustainable Housing

Fred Sanders, M.E. Overtoom*

*Corresponding author for this work

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A “community of knowledge” of representatives of the housing sector in the Netherlands investigated the impact of the behaviour of residents in sustainable housing, both newly constructed and renovated stock. For this, grey scientific data were used, i.e., data and reports from non-university agencies reflecting research commissioned by civil society NGOs and commercial enterprises. The aim was to find perspectives for action (practical “rules of thumb”) to increase the impact of sustainable housing on CO2 reduction and facilitate the implementation of the Dutch national sustainability program. First, a conceptual framework and research model were created to generate the relevant research questions for the sustainable construction sector. An innovative research approach was used where data from academic non-university researchers were enriched by university academic researchers. Experiences with the methodology used are: (a) It implicitly places the many factors that influence sustainable resident behaviour in context; and (b) it makes clear that data from such research can complement university research with useful data from practice, data that are scientifically difficult to use because they are mostly derived from stand-alone case studies. The perspectives for action that were generated are: (a) Sustainable technologies must add new useful functionalities for acceptance; (b) sustainable supply must be tailor-made because households differ and tenants behave differently from homeowners; (c) decision-making about sustainable investments is not only based on financial factors; (d) residents are reluctant to become involved, so it is important that (e) the people representing contractors should be reliable; and (f) people want personalised plans and on-time delivery. Finally, the collected reports turned out to be focused on practice and therefore provided less theoretical information about the rebound effect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalUrban Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • CO2 reduction
  • community of knowledge
  • energy transition
  • resident behaviour
  • sustainable housing

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