The Bartlett School of Planning


Alizara Juangbhanich

Research subject

Thesis title: How and why do private developers engage in green building practice?

Primary supervisor: Dr Catalina Turcu
Secondary supervisor: Professor Yvonne Rydin
Starting date: September 2014
Projected completion date: September 2018
Contact: a.juangbhanich.11@ucl.ac.uk

Alizara Juangbhanich
Buildings consume up to 40 percent of global energy and account for one third of energy-related GHG emissions (UNEP, 2014). Sustainable building design and construction has been increasingly adopted as a means to alleviate growing environmental concerns with particular emphasis on green building practice. Despite the growing awareness and rapid increase in number of projects throughout the developed world, integration of green building practice in developing cities in Southeast Asia remain slow (Shafii, Ali, & Othman, 2006). Barriers in green building practice are often referred to as financial, technical, institutional or marketrelated; with repeated identification of cost premiums, lack of expertise, technology, government incentives, market demand as key concerns (see BCI Asia, 2014; Samari, Ghodrati, Esmaeilifar, Olfat, & Shafiei, 2013). 

This study contends that, particularly in the context of developing cities, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms behind the behaviour of developers and their responses to green building practice that is found in existing literature. Lack of implementation and effort in green building practice are often addressed as a result of economic and technological impracticalities that limit the viability of a green building project. Academic studies and market research that sought to investigate corporate responses to green building practice have conclusively identified economic, technological, social, and political factors within the external context as key barriers and drivers of green building projects. This is to say that conditions in the contextual environment are the main – or sole – causes that constrain green building efforts. We argue that this belief is an oversimplification of the factors involved therein; one that is derived from a business-orientated perspective that prioritises the focus on financial costs and returns. We propose that developer response to green building practice is far more complex than the amalgamation of contextual factors. 

Developers – as organisations – are susceptible to the influence of organisational and psychological factors that lie beyond issues of practicality (see Hoffman & Bazerman, 2005; Hoffman & Henn, 2008). Majority of the research found in green building literature ceases to explore developer behaviour under an organisational behaviour perspective and pays limited attention to the extent in which organisational structure, culture, and ‘softer’ psychological constructs may interactively shape decisions to engage in green building practice. Consequently, organisational and socio-psychological factors in green building practice may have been overlooked. This study seeks to readdress the understanding of factors involved in developer decisions to undertake green building practice through a theoretical framework that integrates organisational behaviour theory with the literature on property development. It identifies that developer decisions to adopt green building practice are shaped by the interplay of ‘hard’ pragmatic factors found in the external environmental context and ‘soft’ psychological factors embedded within the organisation and its members, thereby hypothesising that factors rooted in the culture and cognitive constraints of top managers will play an equal – or even larger – role in shaping developer decisions to undertake green building practice. 

This study therefore attempts to explore the question ‘how and why do private developers engage in green building practice?’ through a qualitative approach under an organisational behavioural framework to generate a more holistic understanding of the factors that shape responses to green building practice. It focuses on uncovering the significance that organisational and psychological constructs may have on decisions to undertake green building projects. Government policies have dedicated large amount of resources to facilitate and promote green building practice through financial incentives and subsidies. We argue that this is a topdown approach to encourage sustainable building practice; and that it may be as equally important to attend to behavioural aspects with an aim to foster efforts from a more bottom-up approach. The research draws on the case study of Bangkok to contribute a better understanding to private developers’ engagement with green building practice in the context of developing cities where sustainable urbanisation is imperative yet limitedly practiced and researched.


BCI Asia. (2014). Green building market report. Retrieved from http://www.bciasia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Green.Building.Market....

Hoffman, A.J. & Bazerman, M.H. (2005). Changing environmental practice: Understanding and overcoming the organizational and psychological barriers. Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 05-043. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID663564_code254274.pdf?a...

Hoffman, A. J., & Henn, R. (2008). Overcoming the social and psychological barriers to green building. Organization & Environment, 21(4), 390–419.

UNEP. (2014). Climate finance for cities and buildings – A handbook for local governments. Paris, France: UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.

Samari, M., Ghodrati, N., Esmaeilifar, R., Olfat, P., & Shafiei, M. W. M. (2013). The investigation of the barriers in developing green building in Malaysia. Modern Applied Science, 7(2), 1-10.

Shafii, F., Ali, Z. A., & Othman, M. Z. (2006). Achieving sustainable construction in the developing countries of Southeast Asia. In Proceedings of the 6th Asia-Pacific Structural Engineering and Construction Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 5-6 September (pp. C-29–C-44).


Alizara (Lisa) is a PhD candidate at the Bartlett School of Planning under the supervision of Dr Catalina Turcu and Professor Yvonne Rydin. Holding a background degree in architecture (Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University) and MSc in Sustainable Urbanism (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL), her interest in sustainability for the built environment ranges from green building design and practice to research in sustainable urban planning and development. Particular research interest includes exploring pro-environmental behaviour within the context of developing cities which her master’s dissertation (Exploring Behavioural Change in Car-dependency) and current PhD seek to contribute. 

Publications and other work


• Taking Planning Forward (Second Edition): PhD Research Projects at the Bartlett School of Planning, 2016/17 

Conference presentations:

• Turcu, C. and Juangbhanich, A. (2013). Pro-environmental Behaviour and Private Car Ownership in Fast Developing Countries: The Case of Bangkok in Thailand. Joint AESOP/ACSP Congress Dublin. Dublin, Ireland.


• Turcu, C. and Juangbhanich, A. (2013). Pro-environmental Behaviour and Private Car Ownership in Fast Developing Countries: The Case of Bangkok in Thailand. People and the Planet 2013: Transforming the Future. Melbourne, Australia. 


• Juangbhanich, A. (2017). How and why do private developers engage in green building practice? The case of Bangkok, Thailand. 2017 The Bartlett Doctoral Conference on Sustainable Built Environment. London, UK. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/events/2017/jun/2017-bartlett-doctoral-co...

• Juangbhanich, A. (2017). How and why do private developers engage in green building practice? The case of Bangkok, Thailand. City+ Conference. Cambridge, UK. 


• Juangbhanich, A. (2017). How and Why do Private Developers Engage in Green Building Practice? The Case of Bangkok, Thailand. 2nd Asia Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development (ACESD 2017). Tokyo, Japan. 


• Juangbhanich, A. (2018). Exploring Property Developer Behaviour Through Organisational Theory: Implications for a Sustainable Future. The Asian Conference on Psychology and Behavioural Sciences (ACP 2018). Kobe, Japan.


• Juangbhanich, A. (forthcoming). How and why do private developers engage in green building practice? A case study of Bangkok, Thailand. AESOP Annual Congress 2018. Gothenburg, Sweden. 



• Postgraduate Teaching Assistant for BENVGTC5 - Sustainable Urban Development (Part 1): Key Themes module at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. September 2015 – present. 

• Postgraduate Teaching Assistant for BENVGTC7 - Sustainable Urban Development (Part 2): Project module at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. January 2017 – present.

• Discussion panel member for BENVGEPD: Sustainable Property: Valuation, Investment, Development module at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. March, 2018.


• Lead student in UCL ChangeMakers project ‘BEN FED: Bartlett Feedback Enhancement Drivers’ with the Bartlett Student Experience Committee. 

• Summer Intern at UCL Sustainability. August – October 2017.