Sustainable transitions in residential energy use: Characteristics and governance of urban-based initiatives across Europe
Jensen, Charlotte Louise
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Goggins, Gary, Fahy, Frances, & Jensen, Charlotte Louise. (2019). Sustainable transitions in residential energy use: Characteristics and governance of urban-based initiatives across Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, 237, 117776. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117776
Reducing domestic energy use in cities has become a key focus in achieving sustainability goals. Recent and on-going efforts to address excessive residential energy use have taken various forms and have been initiated by a range of different actors. This paper presents evidence from the analysis of a database of 249 recent sustainable energy initiatives that have been implemented at various scales in and across urban areas in Europe. The paper examines common trends and characteristics in the type of initiatives that are promoted, including the problem definition, general approach, and implementation method. A second focus of enquiry centers on the governance mechanisms that underpin these initiatives. Here, attention turns to the main actors responsible for driving initiatives, the frequency and various forms of implementing partnerships, and the funding source through which the selected initiatives are financed. Two major themes emerged from reviewing the data, namely stratification and integration. Stratification or integration was evident across five key areas including problem framing, general approach, engagement mechanisms, governance, and evaluation frameworks. A corresponding typology of initiatives is presented under four categories: Enhancing; Directional; Experimental; and Responsive. Applying the typology to the dataset shows that enhancing initiatives aimed at optimizing technology or individual behavior are most prevalent (56%). Experimental initiatives that deliberate with new ways of living (16%) or responsive initiatives that consider contextual-needs (14%) are less prevalent and are more likely to occur at a smaller scale. Overall, we argue that integration across key areas can increase the success of initiatives that aim to achieve long-term sustainable transformation in household energy use.