Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Demonstration Sustainable Building: A tool for investigating environmental values

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posted on 2021-11-22, 23:02 authored by Bahho, Mazin

This study explores the engagement of groups from tertiary education and the community in the refurbishment of an existing log cabin structure to function as a demonstration facility for exhibiting sustainable building and living practices to the community. The research focuses on educating the public about sustainable building and living practices and, as a result, inspiring pro-environmental behaviour. The central question is why people choose to engage with the various stages of creating a sustainable building and their attitudes towards behaving sustainably. The research approach is explorative, mainly making use of qualitative methods. It is a case study of creating, monitoring, and using a sustainable building including a series of pre and post-engagement structured discussions and interviews with those involved. Thematic analysis is used to identify patterns and themes within the qualitative data, and quantitative methods are used in analysing data from surveys. This study argues for the potential of a demonstration project to change the values of people through active, systematic, and successive learning, both in the building and the visiting phases. The key findings show that people’s involvement increased as the project gained momentum. When the building was almost half finished people began to volunteer to take part in the project. The acceptance tipping point came when the project was sufficiently advanced that people could see becoming involved would produce something tangible. The results 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 became involved.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Vale, Brenda; Milfont, Taciano