The paper analyzes the introduction of passive houses in the Norwegian house market. Passive houses are houses with extremely low levels of energy consumption for heating, and have not yet been built in Norway, but have started to enter the market in Germany and some other countries.
The construction sector is analyzed as a sectoral innovation system. The different elements of the innovation system are studied. This includes government agencies, producers, consumers, finance and education.
The analysis shows that passive and low-energy houses are on the verge of market breakthrough. This can partly be explained by economic calculations, and partly by processes of learning and change in the institutional set-up of the sector. The construction sector is a sector characterized by low innovative intensity and little interaction between different agents. Those working to promote passive houses have to some extent managed to cope with these challenges. This has happened by breaking away from the traditional focus of Norwegian energy efficiency policies on technology and the economically rational agents, by instead focusing on knowledge and institutional change at the level of the producers.