Urban development bestows a great opportunity to increase sustainability in the built environment as cities are responsible for the majority of environmental impacts. However, the urban development process is fragmented and sub-optimization leads to unsustainable life cycle outcomes. The purpose of this study is to examine the urban development process from a life cycle perspective and identify how different actors understand life cycle management. By utilizing an inductive qualitative research design, 38 in-depth thematic interviews were conducted within the Finnish urban development industry including a case study and independent interviews from different phases of the urban development life cycle. The theoretical perspective is a combination of the ecosystem construct and life cycle management. Results show that there is no clear responsible actor for life cycle management in urban development. All actors claim that there is value to be added, mostly in economic, but also environmental and social terms. This study reveals that investors should be the responsible actor in the urban development process. By claiming responsibility and focusing on life cycle leadership we can improve sustainability in urban development, and respond to the urban sustainability challenge, thus improving the quality of life and welfare in our urban society.
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