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Sustainable Cities and Everyday Practice

Head of research group: Kirsten Gram-Hanssen

Life in cities and the organization of cities, housing, and everyday practices are crucial to the transition to sustainable. New technical solutions cannot stand alone but must function in the context of social organizations and must be developed in cooperation between citizens, authorities, and companies.

NEED FOR NEW KNOWLEDGE

Urban design is essential for the quality of everyday life and low resource consumption. Consumption patterns are increasing, and knowledge of the connections between the physical design of cities and the practices of different social groups is essential to understanding and influencing this. The energy system is undergoing change with an increasing share of fluctuating renewable energy, and ‘smart city’ solutions aim to adapt consumption to production. Here, knowledge of the temporality of everyday practices is essential. There is also a need for increased knowledge of the processes underlying urban design and for the development of tools that can be used by local authorities, businesses, and citizens in decision-making on physical development. Differences exist between city and country – and exist internally in cities – in relation to growth and development. Solutions aimed at sustainable change must, therefore, reflect this.

RESEARCH EFFORTS

The group works empirically and theoretically with household consumption and everyday practice and with public, private, and civil actor initiatives in the development of cities and residential areas. The empirical work on household consumption focuses on understanding differences in energy consumption, how households respond to measures to manage and move consumption, and how self-production affects attitudes towards consumption. The theoretical work on household consumption is aimed at developing a newer theory of practice to better accommodate analyses in relation to gender and social background and to understand the importance of ethical norms. The empirical work on cities and residential areas investigates local community dynamics, sustainable urban renewal, the revitalization of urban, climate adaptation in cities, and the integration of the energy and housing sector at the area level. Urban transformation and renewal are analysed based on the theory of sustainable social and economic community development and the international literature on new public governance and theories of governance, management, and organizational learning in complex private-public interaction.

COOPERATION

The group cooperates with all Danish actors active in the city in housing and supply, such as municipalities, utilities, public and private partnerships, private companies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In addition, at the national and international levels, we collaborate with Danish and international universities and knowledge institutions to provide the basis for decision-making and the background knowledge for a sustainable transformation of the city and residential area. Group members participate in several academic networks, such as SCORAI, EURA, ECEEE, and the ESA research network on consumption.

APPLICATION

Practical research is disseminated through daily press, trade journals, presentations, and direct cooperation with all relevant actors in the development of cities, housing, and supply. In addition, research is disseminated internationally through scientific journals, participation in international conferences, and several programmes at AAU-CPH, including the master’s programmes City, Housing and Settlement and Sustainable Cities.

About the research group