Where the previous months were a drag in terms of book writing, the last two weeks have been pretty productive. I’ve managed to stick to the planned schedule of working on the book only in the mornings and work on other stuff in the afternoons (articles—at the end of the day I’m still writing non-stop, but at least it feels a little better). Already in Singapore I made some big decisions in terms of cutting down the number of cases—examples of voluntary programs for sustainable buildings—to discuss in the book, and this week I have decided to step away from looking at the Asian countries in it.
Cutting out the cases from India, Malaysia, and Singapore hurts a fair bit, but I realise that it doesn’t change the narrative I want to tell through the book—how voluntary programs may help accelerating a transition to a low-carbon built environment. The cases from India, Malaysia, and Singapore did not truly add anything new to the narrative and were raising more questions (about context predominantly) than that they provided answers.
So the book has again become leaner: It now only addresses voluntary programs for sustainable buildings in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States, clustered in three dominant types—certification and classification programs, information generation and dissemination programs, and financing programs. This gets me closer, again, to what I originally thought that was possible with the data I’ve collected: A book that builds on the voluntary programs literature, but that mainly provides new empirical insights. I guess that will make the whole project of less interest to a big name university press, but so be it.
Again, the major take home lesson of all this is think carefully about whether or not to write a book out of a large scale research project upfront—and not at the end, as I did. I’m now down to discussing some 25+ examples of voluntary programs. That’s less than half of the number I studied. Of course, the other voluntary programs studied make for good material for journal articles, but I could have given myself a bit of an easier time over the last years had I put a little more thought about all this some years ago.
Hopefully this positive vibe continues over the next weeks…