Co-evolution of legal and voluntary standards: Development of energy efficiency in Swiss residential building codes

Grösser, Stefan (2014). Co-evolution of legal and voluntary standards: Development of energy efficiency in Swiss residential building codes Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 87, pp. 1-16. Elsevier 10.1016/j.techfore.2014.05.014

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Improving the level of energy efficiency required by building codes for refurbishments and new construction is a powerful lever for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This paper explores how technological, social, political, and economic factors interact and shape the evolution of the energy efficiency in building codes. Existing approaches to the evolution of standards focus primarily on adopting individual or multiple technologies or products, but only peripherally explore the feedback dynamics between innovation, diffusion, and standardization (IDS.) To fill this void, I draw on the revelatory case of Switzerland, because the Swiss standards have continuously improved since 1970, whereas in many other countries improvements have stagnated after the recovery from peaks in energy prices. The paper's contribution is, first, a qualitative, structural model which endogenously formalizes the IDS-dynamics of standard improvement. I find that the co-evolution of voluntary and legal building codes have enabled a continuous improvement of the standards even in the absence of economic pressures. And second, I use the model for policy analysis, which indicates that several obvious policies might cause policy resistance and could result in uneconomical, counter-intuitive outcomes. Policy interventions have to dynamically balance the speed of innovation and the ability of system agents to change.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Business School


Grösser, Stefan0000-0003-3412-2711








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Date Deposited:

10 Sep 2019 08:29

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:28

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Uncontrolled Keywords:

Co-evolution, innovation diffusion, feedback, causal model, standard, system structure, innovation ecosystem, system dynamics, energy efficiency




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