3. Robust solutions

Robust Solutions focuses on how we can promote sustainable urbanisation by examining the use, functioning and location of new solutions from a dweller perspective.

Often sustainable urban development has focused on particular technological solutions, but overlooking how the new solutions fit into existing systems and the role of the dwellers. Efforts to promote less resource-intensive habits and routines often disregard the role of individual agency, choice and change. A too strong emphasis of technological solutions for sustainability might even lead to the exclusion of some dweller groups, or a failure to reach the expectations.

Robust Solutions explores the expectations and demands sustainable urban systems create among dwellers and how the dwellers’ everyday activities can contribute to collective learning that helps the design of policies, specific measures and technologies. SP3 will critically examine the true potential of new technologies in achieving sustainability transitions.

Two specific cases will be analyzed:

  • The potential for increasing energy and resource efficiency using flow monitoring technologies
  • Mobility service platforms to support transition to more flexible urban mobility.

First phase (co-design)

In the first phase the subproject will jointly with the Future CIty -subproject map the applicability of solutions and experiences from a wider European context together with the ICLEI network concerning our case themes. Our first case study, apartment specific water metering is an example of the ways the diverse dwellers’ use, adoption and uptake of specific novel technologies is crucial for the progress of urban sustainability solutions, such as the smart city and smart housing concepts. Together with the DAC-partners utility provider HELEN and energy metering provider Vercon Ltd we will combine quantitative energy usage data with interviews of the developers of the technologies, user focus group discussions with dwellers and housing companies and following the metering practices in selected new buildings with cutting edge resource efficient technologies.

By contrasting front-runner dwellers and areas with dwellers having access to similar technologies in areas with more established infrastructure and use patterns, we will be able to highlight the interdependence of the factors restraining the success of these systems.

Our second case involves mobility platforms where a variety of experimental initiatives has ascended. Our focus is on the ways these services encounter the dwellers’ needs and practices, and what possibilities and restrictive elements emerge in scaling up these platforms. We will focus on the users and providers of these services and organise focus group discussions with the DAC-partner 24Rent Ltd which has provided car sharing services together with property developer VVO and Skanska Ltd.

Second phase (co-creation)

We will, together with our partners and learning from phase one, embed the findings in the socio-technical transition framework to develop practical tools for service providers and housing companies fostering transitions.  Joint facilitation of the uptake of novel technologies and solutions in existing and new housing companies and neighborhoods will be a key issue. By testing the transition framework and the tools in real-life situations and locations with our partners, we are able to make both theoretical and practical contributions.

We will bring new insights into the variety and cognitive aspects of dwellers using and housing companies advancing novel solutions.

A particular issue will be how to avoid the risks of exclusion of certain dweller groups such as immigrants, the elderly or marginalised groups. The co-creation phase sees housing companies as intermediaries between technology and service providers and dwellers. The transition framework and the tools will be operationalised in a variety of settings in Finland and abroad. Thus the findings will be fed back to relevant projects in ICLEI to foster a wider international discussion and use of the dweller perspective in sustainability transitions.

SP3 contributes to the understanding of the effects of diverse dwellers’ actions in sustainable urbanisation and provide concrete and methodological tools in helping to implement the uptake of sustainable solutions in living and housing.