Currently, a growing societal awareness of problems in the context of unsustainable development meets with conflicts of interest, and the actual implementation of sustainability research, and sustainable innovations and technologies, has only been mildly successful. Sustainable development demands nothing less than a radical change in their modes of consumption, production, technology, and decision-making. The authors have investigated the obstacles to and potentials of such a change in two representative case studies, one focusing on the role of sustainability research within science, the other on the energy-efficient refurbishment of old buildings. A short presentation of the methodological approaches, and the respective results, is followed by a comparative systemic analysis of the two fields of investigation. Finally, they discuss possible implications of the discovered systemic comparisons for societal transition processes.