Request for proposals - Climate and the built environment: perception study

Built Environment

Laudes Foundation seeks an independent research team to undertake a review of the narrative perceptions of how the built environment relates to a just climate transition. The full review will be published.  

Complete proposals must be submitted via email by midnight BST on Wednesday 26 April 2023. More details are given below in the request for proposals (RFP). 

Download the full RFP here.


  1. Introduction 

Laudes Foundation is an independent foundation joining the growing movement to accelerate the transition to a climate-positive and inclusive global economy. Responding to the dual crises of climate breakdown and inequality, Laudes supports brave action that inspires and challenges industry to harness its power for good. Founded by the Brenninkmeijer family business owners, it builds on six generations of entrepreneurship and philanthropy and works collaboratively alongside a wide network of philanthropic organisations, to both influence finance and capital markets and transform industry with a focus on the built environment and fashion sectors.  

Our built environment programme is currently working with more than 40 partners across Europe and has, to date, invested more than €40 million into supporting foundational change through targets, measurement and regulation; helping those focused on scaling today’s most impactful solutions, and funding pioneers who are leading the way in radical thinking to reshape the framing of what is needed tomorrow. We believe the built environment needs to change the ‘rules of the game’ – making it viable, even profitable – for those who focus on how to ‘build less’ by creating more compact and liveable cities, who build with social impact as a driver not a risk, and who are trying to move regenerative bio-based materials from niche to norm. We work with partners who share that same vision. 


  1. Background and Context 

The basic purpose of buildings is to create shelter for people. But they are so much more. Buildings shape our lives. More than three-quarters of our time is spent indoors. Buildings are not just where we sleep and work; but where we grow-up, raise families and share celebrations. Housing is a fundamental human right: everyone is entitled to live in a house that provides dignity and respect.  

However, housing can also be unequal, uncomfortable, and damaging. Buildings currently account for almost 40% of all carbon emissions1, while legacy planning development and management models or housing policy can exacerbate social inequalities. We urgently need to transform the building and construction sector so that it becomes regenerative, inclusive and zero-carbon, shaping cities and buildings to support communities, residents and workers. 

To some extent, change is happening: 

  • EU policymakers are moving towards directives which promote policies that will help achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050 (such as the EPBD), create a stable environment for investment decisions and enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices to save energy and money.  

  • Many new and existing building projects have already used circular economy principles, so they are able to set out the carbon reduction results. 

  • Municipalities mandating affordable housing as part of commercial development and setting targets and providing incentives are collaborating on innovative reforms for regenerative and inclusive built environments that prioritise decarbonisation and wellbeing in the spaces where we live, learn, work and play. 

  • The UN has formally recognised that housing and climate are inextricably linked and have recommendations to address both.2 

Energy efficiency is riding a wave of recognition, on the back of the illegal war in Ukraine and subsequent energy crisis, which has led to rising awareness of operational carbon which connects more directly to people’s lives.  

This could be a window of opportunity to harness in establishing a wider narrative on the built environment’s3 climate and social impact, broadening it from operational to whole life carbon and from energy prices to house prices and from jobs in renovation to jobs in a circular economy. How buildings and materials are sourced, built, operated, renovated, recycled – and how money is made from this process – could be as much a priority for the public as straws and single-use plastics.  

Changing the narrative of a subject is at the bedrock of social progress. Whether it is the recent shift to individual and collective responsibility on climate change; using new media such as the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter, which encouraged a movement of women to share their stories of sexual harassment, and sparked a national conversation that led to a shift in cultural attitudes towards these issues; or a non-fiction book such as “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, which outlined the ongoing importance of community based, bottom-up approaches to building and shaping our cities; narrative matters. 


  1. Purpose and Scope 

Laudes Foundation is looking to develop a new high-level narrative (messaging chapeau), set of key messages, proof points (research, data, solutions) and calls to action which can be used by primarily European partners, industry leaders and policymakers in relation to the built environment transition. 

To do this we believe we first need to produce a game-changing piece of research which identifies both industry and public perceptions of the built environment as a key factor in a climate transition; identifying opportunities for further ways to increase its recognition among changemakers and the wider populace. 

We expect this research will need to map the narrative space as it is now, within the EU (plus the UK, Switzerland, and Scandinavia), reviewing: 

  • the debates in mainstream media already happening – specifically considering the narrative on the financialisation of housing and land (e.g., analysis on house prices) – and how they link to climate and inequality; 

  • research and narrative development already undertaken – both climate and inequality – by the different actors in the sector (this could be an NGO, media agency/ provider/ platform, policymaker, the construction sector or real estate); and  

  • levels of cut-through for the pro-climate and equality arguments on different channels, in different demographics and geographies. This could be laid out as a quantitative study looking at several factors which measure engagement (reach, clicks, data trends); as a qualitative analysis in which the agency makes judgements about which interventions had most impact and why; or a combination of the two.  

It will also need to analyse and propose: 

  • the European nations, regions, and cities where the largest narrative impact could be made; 

  • the most effective communications channels to make that impact; 

  • which presentational approaches, angles, framing or perspectives could be the most important to unlock action by decision-makers;  

  • if we need to unpick the built environment from the current lens of the 'poly-crisis' - housing crisis, cost of living crisis, climate crisis, energy crisis, migration crisis – as a standalone or interrelated issue; 

  • what the “big idea” could be in the built environment that can inspire and rapidly build political will for a transition; 

  • the key stakeholders who could be part of a spokesperson network (the “defectors” that are credible in front of decision-makers) complete with the rationale for selecting these individuals; and 

  • examples and analysis of success factors of narrative-shaping campaigns that cut-through. 

Some further scope considerations include:  

  • Laudes Foundation currently funds built environment projects in Europe only, although any built environment narrative would need to consider impact in other similar markets (such as the United States, for example);  

  • we expect the narrative we are developing to be in English and assume the English version could be translated rather than establishing a market-by-market narrative, but we would also want the successful agency to fully test that presumption; and 

  • whilst it is out of scope for this RfP, it is not impossible that the agency could also develop the messaging following completion of the research. 

  1. Research Questions 

Recognising the breadth and complexity of this research, the research team and Laudes will need to agree on how to structure the research in phases.  


The funding for this RfP will cover three research phases (including an inception phase) of a larger project to develop a new narrative. These phases, described below, are indicative, and the scope will need to be refined by the research team and Laudes Foundation once research begins.  


The research is expected to unpack questions, including, but not necessarily limited to: 

Phase 1: Inception (estimated effort 20 working days4) 

  1. Understanding the built environment in relation to climate and equity 

  • What material from Laudes Foundation and accompanying partners is core to understanding the built environment?5 

  • What is the route of causal change in the built environment?6  

  • Which audience(s) (policymakers/ industry leaders/ consumers/ financiers/ workers) are the most significant to enable change? Why? 

  1. Who are the key stakeholders (individuals and organisations)?7 

  • Who are the main stakeholders already working in the built environment narrative space across climate and inequality? Who is missing? 

  • Has there been any research and narrative development already undertaken – in both climate and inequality – by the different actors in the sector? 

  • Which of these stakeholders need to be interviewed during desk research (phase 2) to scope parameters, or during field work (phase 3)? 

  • What are the connections between the organisations / individuals and the typical or non-typical ways they collaborate? 

  • Where are these stakeholders, and to what extent will that impact the narrative language and location of the field research? 

  • Where are the gaps? Who need to be speaking about the built environment, but aren’t? 

Phase 2: Desk research and analysis (estimated effort 30 days) 

  1. The built movement unified narrative. 

  • What ideas have previously resonated with audiences, and which ideas haven’t? Why? 

  • What is the “big idea” in housing that can inspire and rapidly build political will? 

  • Are there any other similar campaigns or ideas that have proved successful which we should look to replicate/ learn from? 

  • What are the debates in mainstream media already happening – specifically considering the narrative on the financialisation of housing and land? 

  • What do stakeholders believe is the biggest problem or blocker for a unified persuasive narrative about a just transition for the built environment? 

  • Channel analysis: what are the most used/ successful channels? What are people saying on social media? 

  1. Evaluation and analysis 

  • Can we measure the effectiveness of previous campaigns or narratives? 

  • What blend of channels are the most effective communications routes to make an impact? 

  • What framing works? What doesn’t work? Why? 

  • In what spoken language(s) should a built environment narrative be created for the most effective results?  

  • Which European nations, regions and cities should be targeted for the largest impact? 

  • Is there anything unique about the built environment that means it does not have relevant cut through in mainstream discourse? 

  • Who are the gatekeepers to storytelling and persuasion? What do we need to make them think, feel and do in order to support a campaign for the built environment?  


Phase 3: Field testing (estimated effort 40 days) 

  1. Sense-testing 

  • What do stakeholders among Laudes Foundation’s partners think about the findings? 

  • What do communications experts in the building sector believe are the biggest barriers to change? 

  • Where are industry experts saying more work/ research is needed to define a narrative? 

  • Who would be the best audience(s) to test established theories with? 

  • What do the best messages and assets look like for a narrative? What assets would need to be produced? 

  • Predictions of how nay-sayers might respond to new progressive narrative arguments8, and tactics or ripostes to those lines of attack. 

  1. Primary research – testing messaging and framing with sample audience. 

  • [Make-up and size of audience to be determined by agency in research proposals.]


More information about the research methodology, roles and responsabilities, deliverables and disseminations are on the full RFP.

Proposals should be submitted via email by 26 April 2023 and addressed to Ben Walker ( 


Built Environment