Smart Urban Retrofitting

Header image: Smart Urban Retrofitting

Smart Urban Retrofitting refers to the restructuring of existing housing stock to increase buildings’ resource efficiency and generation capacity. Not only it involves structural changes in energy and informational flows, but also in actor relations, governance arrangements and consumer energy practices. This unique social scientific project aims to study patterns of residents’ involvement and the governance of retrofitting projects in social housing in a comparative set-up: case studies of retrofitting projects in Amsterdam will be studied in parallel with those of Mianyang in China. The project is led by Wageningen University, partnering with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)  in China, Waag Society and Housing Corporation Ymere in Amsterdam.

The project aims to identify the social and institutional conditions under which smart retrofitting of urban housing in China and the Netherlands may lead to the decoupling of domestic energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. Smart systems and retrofitting mostly refer to the use of smart technologies like smart meters and smart energy systems in energy retrofitting. This project adopts a social scientific approach to “smartness” in which end-user perspectives and energy practices are explicitly included. The project entails a comparative multiple case study of smart retrofitting projects in Amsterdam and Mianyang. Project initiators, local authorities, housing corporations, grid operators and utilities will be interrogated on the setup and governance of these projects while changing energy practices of residents will be studied by means of interviews, observations and consumer focus groups both in Amsterdam and in Mianyang. The energy practices that emerge as an implication of smart urban retrofitting are central to this study, next to the identification of new social relations amongst and between householders and housing and energy providers. Results of the project will inform policy makers and practitioners in Amsterdam and Mianyang on the implications for consumers and providers of smart retrofitting projects in terms of new emerging energy practices and new relations between consumers and providers. Our case studies in Amsterdam will be done in close cooperation with AMS partners Ymere and Waag Society. The latter will organise a co-creation trajectory with residents of a housing estate where retrofitting is at stake.

Project duration
1 July 2015 – 1 November 2019

AMS Institute; Wageningen University, Environmental Policy Group; CASS China; Waag Society Amsterdam; Ymere Amsterdam

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