Leverage Points for Sustainability: Targeting Stakeholders, Innovations, and Decision Types of Maximal Influence

Annie Pearce, Pratik Doshi, and Margaret Carneal


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Many mechanisms exist to influence and promote the adoption of appropriate green building innovations, from policy mandates and incentives to education campaigns and product trials. However, not all programs are equally effective in achieving the goal of promoting adoption of such innovations, and sometimes the adoption of an innovation can have unanticipated consequences that negatively influence the potential for diffusion of the innovation to other stakeholders. Given constrained resources, how can designers of sustainability programs most effectively promote the adoption of green building innovations that achieve desired resource conservation goals without introducing other problems such as public health threats or consumption rebound effects?


This research employed a process of stakeholder interaction mapping to identify possible points of influence for changing peoples’ decisions about specific water-related innovations in green buildings, including water heating and conservation technologies. The study found that existing tools intended to improve technology selection decisions may be targeted toward end-user stakeholders with comparatively lower degrees of control over actual technology selection decisions. The study also identified other key supply chain factors that may influence the availability of specific technologies through normal channels, thereby reducing the pool of feasible options in making selection decisions. Study findings suggest a need to consider a whole-systems perspective when choosing points to introduce program interventions. Designers of programs should also systematically identify supply chain and procurement constraints that affect feasibility of options when providing information to support stakeholder decision-making.



DSC_0109-Edit_MEDr. Annie Pearce is an Associate Professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech specializing in sustainable facilities and infrastructure systems. Throughout her career, Annie has worked with practitioners in both public and private sectors to implement sustainability as part of building planning, design, construction, and operations. As a LEED Accredited Professional, Annie brings the latest in green building methods, technologies, and best practices to the classroom. Her specific areas of interest include metrics of sustainability for built facilities, green building materials and systems, cost modeling to support sustainability implementation, and in situ performance of sustainable facility technologies.