Moving towards sustainability: Insights from district heating, water systems and communal housing projects in local communities
Services such as energy supply, water supply and wastewater management or housing are part of daily life and are usually provided on the municipal level. They all play an important role in a transition towards sustainability. In this contribution we report on findings from a project where sustainability innovations ('niche') from three different areas were analysed. Cases included (1) innovative low-carbon heat grids using renewable sources or waste heat, (2) sustainable water management, and (3) community housing addressing people of different ages. The case studies are based on a series of semi-structured interviews (n=69 from 16 cases), document analysis and expert workshops. The paper addresses the following topics: Q1. What characterizes the innovation under study and how far is it developed? Q2. What are the influencing factors that are relevant in supporting the implementation of the innovation or act as a barrier? Q3. What are potential synergies between the three fields of action? Overall the housing niche seems to be the one that is most established while the level of diffusion is lowest for water projects (Q1). Furthermore, we find that all niche projects relyon municipal support, that strong networks are important to accelerate learning curves and windows of opportunities area precondition for success (Q2). However, while some of the relevant factors are similar across the cases it is very difficult to create synergies in real life and is hardly ever achieved although such opportunities are conceivable (Q3).
Wesche, Julius P.