EAGER/Collaborative Research: Overcoming Barriers to Diffusion and Adoption of Sustainable and Resilient Building Materials in Coastal Areas of Southern Mexico

Project: Research project

Project Details


1321464 (Biles) and 1321489 (Matta)

The objective of this EAGER research project is to: (1) understand social, cultural and economic barriers to the diffusion and adoption of locally developed sustainable and resilient building technologies for residential dwellings in the coastal region of the State of Yucatán, Mexico; and (2) examine how local and transnational networks for the conduct and dissemination of research can enable overcoming those barriers. The study area is ideal to implement the proposed bottom-up approach study barriers to the diffusion and adoption of 'indigenous' technologies since: it is especially prone to the effects and escalating risk of natural hazards (e.g., high winds) and global climate change; local collaborating materials scientists have studied and prototyped two candidate building materials to be evaluated, one for new construction (wood-plastic composites) and one for retrofit/repair (low-cost cement-polymer mortar); and, local stakeholders have yet to embrace innovations. The project will investigate barriers to the diffusion and adoption of building technologies through the lens of recent conceptual and analytical social science perspectives, including social network analysis and science, and technology and society (STS) studies. Historically, the strongest technological, cultural and aspirational connections have run from the Global South to the Global North. Recently, transportation and communication innovations have made South-South interaction more viable and vibrant. Social science research, however, has not assessed the impact of more intense, multi-scalar South-South networks on the diffusion and adoption of new building technologies. By testing the proposed research hypothesis, new knowledge will be created to understand how to integrate social considerations influencing technology diffusion and adoption into the process of conceiving, researching and developing new building technologies, and shepherding them from the laboratory to the field. The project will provide opportunities for a diverse team of researchers (1 minority, 2 women, and 2 early-career) and students to participate in substantive international research. With respect to societal benefits, research will contribute to the mitigation of the impacts of disasters in the study area, with potential application to coastal regions of the US and elsewhere. The project will also promote bottom-up collaboration as an alternative means of improving quality of life and represents the first building block for a transnational network for the dissemination of knowledge in coastal regions of the Global South. This award is co-funded by the Global Venture Fund (GVF) of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) and the CBET/ENG Environmental Sustainability program.

Effective start/end date6/15/135/31/17


  • National Science Foundation: $187,711.00


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