WIT Press

Buildings That Teach: A Strategy For Sustainable Design


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

143 - 154




M. Bahho, B. Vale, T. Milfont


This paper discusses the engagement of groups from tertiary education and the building industry in the refurbishment of an existing log cabin on a university campus to function as a demonstration sustainable project. The paper describes the development of an interpretive and qualitative research model to uncover the complex factors behind behavioural influences. The research is a case study of creating, monitoring, and using a sustainable building, including a series of pre and post engagement interviews with those involved in the building, used to analyse why participants become engaged in the project, and as a consequence how their behaviour might change towards sustainability. Initial findings suggest ‘action’ is a significant moment where behaviour changes, as it creates a medium for learning new behaviour and abandoning the old. In this project action only increased as the project gained momentum. When the building was almost half finished people began to volunteer to be involved with it. The acceptance ‘tipping point’ or threshold came when there was enough physical reality that people could see becoming involved would produce something tangible. The results so far suggest that changing to sustainability stems from the initial involvement of a few highly motivated individuals but when there is sufficient physical reality and reduced psychological distance, more people become involved.


sustainable building, demonstration project, psychological distance, threshold, tipping point