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Construction Management and Economics

Sustainable Building Renovation - Strategies and Processes | Call for Papers | Deadline: February 28th, 2020

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Construction Management and Economics

Construction Management and Economics publishes high-quality original research concerning the management and economics of activity in the construction industry.

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Important dates
Full paper submissions open: December 2019
Extended abstract submission deadline*: until 28 February 2020
Full paper submission deadline: 1st September 2020
Publication of the special issue: July 2021 (accepted issues will appear online ahead of publication)

*Extended abstracts are not essential; but are an opportunity for feedback and to receive confidence it is within scope. Abstracts should be no more than 1,000 words in length including references, and should clearly state the research rationale and purpose/aim, the research problem or theoretical question being addressed, the research methods, and an indication of the key findings. 

The need for building renovation is receiving increased attention in many countries around the world.  One reason for this is an ageing building stock.  Another reason is the need for more environmentally sustainable buildings with reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  There is at the same time a need to upgrade many buildings to improve the quality of life – social sustainability, and to increase productivity in the building process to ensure affordable housing – economic sustainability.  Research in Sustainable Building Renovation (SBR) has also increased.  A recent editorial article by Jensen et al. (2018) includes a proposal for a research agenda for SBR based on a review article by Jensen et al. (2017).  In this special issue of Construction Management and Economics we build on and expand this proposal into a number of themes (see below).

The barriers for SBR have been studied broadly and the drivers for SBR are also quite well researched.  The barriers can be divided in economic and informational.  Among the economic barriers is the landlord/tenant’s dilemma (Ástmarsson et al., 2013).  Building renovation is mainly initiated because there is an accumulated backlog of maintenance and degraded/outdated building components.  Thus, to promote sustainable renovation including energy improvements, financial incentives are important drivers, but it is also important to take various stakeholders’ different interests into account.  There is a need to develop new instruments to increase the volume of SBR and methods to evaluate such instruments.

The focus of most research on building renovation has so far been on deep renovation.  Such renovations are encouraged in European energy policies (EU, 2016).  A main argument for deep renovations is that they are a necessity to achieve radical improvements in energy efficiency.  However, recent research in Sweden has observed a trend of housing associations moving towards applying partial or over-time renovation strategies (Femenías et al., 2018).  There is a need for research on the diversity of current and potential new strategies for SBR of both singular building projects, portfolios of buildings and districts.

The renovation process has been studied in several research papers, but mostly in terms of case studies and dominated by preconceptions of rational decision-making and development of normative guidelines.  There are only few examples of broader cross-sectional research studies investigating specific aspects of renovation processes among a larger sample of projects, companies, professionals and/or countries.  One example is the study by Gluch et al. (2018).  There is a need for more in-depth descriptive and cross-sectional studies of SBR processes in practice to reach a deeper understanding of the different sub-processes of renovation, for instance collection of data on buildings before renovation, the actual use of tools in different renovation sub-processes, the characteristics of processes for different building types and organisations.

The organisation of SBR projects has only been researched to a very limited degree and there have been limited attempts in practice to develop new forms of organisation of SBR.  Outside of building renovation, there have been recent studies that examine new form of cross-sectoral collaborations to drive social value through construction projects (e.g. Barraket and Loosemore, 2018).  There is thus scope to draw inspiration from these studies to feature research that can support increasing the performance of SBR, for instance, by improved collaboration across the value chain and across sectors with more learning across projects and companies.  The application of relational contracting seems a promising direction for further development of building renovation.

There has been intensive research and development of tools and systems to support decision-making, design and evaluation of SBR projects (see e.g. Mjörnell et al., 2014; Malmgren and Mjörnell, 2015; Malmgren et al., 2016), but only few with a focus on portfolios of projects.  An exception is Nielsen et al. (2018).  Moreover, the methods for evaluation of social sustainability are underdeveloped and there is a lack of integration of evaluating the different pillars of sustainability.  There is a need to develop more holistic methods for prioritizing and evaluating SBR.

While there has been a stronger technological emphasis in previous studies on SBR, there is growing interest in taking into account the perspectives of building users (see e.g. Buser and Carlsson, 2017; Tjørring and Gausset, 2019).  This more social viewpoint is critical as there is a need for more research that can support a pull from the demand side, including building owners, facilities managers and end-users to disclose and drive unfulfilled needs and new opportunities.

The increased political focus on SBR makes it important to investigate and demonstrate the contribution that SBR can have in relation to solving important societal challenges, for instance, in relation to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, climate change, energy transition, circularity, industrialisation, digital transformation, housing provision, heritage prevention, social value and quality of life.

Themes for the Special Issue


We welcome theoretical, methodological and empirical papers that address one or more of the following themes related to all types of buildings:

Drivers and barriers for SBR: What new instruments can help to increase the volume of SBR?  How can the uptake of new technologies and new forms of organisation of SBR be improved?  How can the effect and importance of such drivers and barriers be evaluated?  What role do emotional drivers play?

Strategies for SBR: What are the advantages and disadvantages of current strategies for SBR, for instance deep renovation versus stepwise renovation, and which potential new strategies for SBR could be advantageous?  To which degree are strategies planned or emerging and how can intended and unintended consequences be evaluated?  This can concern strategies for both singular building projects, portfolios of buildings and districts, including how to combine old with new buildings.  How can strategies be prioritised and combined?  How can heritage and architectural qualities be integrated?  What implications do different time perspectives on renovation have?

Process of SBR: What characterises SBR processes in practice for different building types, organisations and countries?  How can the processes be improved?  Are the current competences and skills adequate?  Which stakeholders should be involved and in what way?  Why should users be involved and how?  Can relocation of occupants be avoided?  What can different countries learn from each other?

Organisation of SBR: How can the organisation of the value chain for SBR be developed to increase sustainable performance, for instance by improved collaboration across the value chain with more learning across projects and companies?  What new forms of innovative procurements and new business models could be beneficial?  What are the advantageous and disadvantages of temporary and more permanent organisations?  How can the maturity of organisations be assessed? 

Decision-making and evaluation of SBR: How can SBR be evaluated and prioritized in a holistic way?  How can environmental life cycle assessment and economical life cycle assessment be integrated?  And how can social aspects of SBR be further elaborated and integrated in a holistic sustainability evaluation?  How can research help provide the evidence to encourage a stronger pull for SBR from the demand side?

 Societal contribution of SBR: How can SBR contribute to meet important societal challenges?  What impact can SBR have on overall sustainability?  How can SBR contribute to UN’s Sustainability Development Goals?

Submissions guidelines


Informal queries regarding this special issue can be directed to Professor Per Anker Jensen, [email protected].

For more general queries about Construction Management and Economics, please write to Professor Paul W Chan, [email protected].

The guest editors will also join the BEYOND2020 conference in Gothenburg 9-11 June 2020 (https://beyond2020.se/).  We welcome prospective contributors to come meet and discuss your ideas with us!

Guest Editors


Professor Per Anker Jensen, Technical University of Denmark

Associate Professor Liane Thuvander, Chalmers University of Technology

Associate Professor Paula Femenias, Chalmers University of Technology

Professor Henk Visscher, Delft University of Technology


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Ástmarsson, B., Jensen, P. A. and Maslesa, E. (2013) Sustainable renovation of residential buildings and the landlord/tenant dilemma, Energy Policy, 63, 355-362.

Barraket, J. and Loosemore, M. (2018) Co-creating social value through collaboration between social enterprises and the construction industry, Construction Management and Economics, 36(7), 394-408.

Buser, M. and Carlsson, V. (2017) What you see is not what you get: single-family house renovation and energy retrofit seen through the lens of sociomateriality, Construction Management and Economics, 35(5), 276-287. 

EU (2016) Horizon 2020 - Work Programme 2016 – 2017, European Commission Decision C(2016)4614 of 25 July 2016.

Femenías, P., Mjörnel, K., Thuvander, L. (2018) Rethinking deep renovation: The perspective of rental housing in Sweden, Journal for Cleaner Production, 195, 1457-1467.

Gluch, P., Gustafsson, M., Baumann, H., and Lindahl, G. (2018) From tool-making to tool-using – and back: Rationales for adoption and use of LCC, International Journal of Strategic Property Management, 22(3), 179-190.

Jensen, P. A., Maslesa, E., and Berg, J. B. (2018) Sustainable building renovation: Proposals for a research agenda, Sustainability, 10, 1-9.

Jensen, P. A., Maslesa, E., Berg, J. B. and Thuesen, C. (2017) 10 questions concerning sustainable building renovation, Building and Environment, 143, 130-137.

Malmgren, L, Elfborg, S. and Mjörnell, K. (2016) Development of a decision support tool for sustainable renovation – a case study, Structural Survey, 34(1), 3-11.

Malmgren, L. and Mjörnell, K. (2015) Application of a decision support tool in three renovation projects, Sustainability, 7, 12521-12538.

Mjörnell, K., Boss, A., Lindahl, M. and Molnar, S. (2014) A tool to evaluate different renovation alternatives with regard to sustainability, Sustainability, 6, 4227-4245.

Nielsen, A. N., Larsen, T. S., Nissen, S. B. and Jensen, R. L. (2018) REDIS: A value-based decision support tool for renovation of building portfolios, Building and Environment, 142, 107-118.

Tjørring, L. and Gausset, Q. (2019) Drivers for retrofit: A sociocultural approach to houses and inhabitants, Building Research and Information, 47(4), 394-403.