Power to the people : Sustainable area exploitation through energy conservation in households

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Our society is currently at a tipping point. Some indicators of this transition, that currently manifest themselves in the Netherlands, are a bottom-up revolution and semi-permanent crises of our economic system, our care system and the building sector. Worldwide, humanity sees itself confronted with food crises, climate change and looming crises of energy, materials and resources. Gunning, director at Akzo Nobel, states that these global problems have a hitherto unknown scope and complexity, for which we currently do not hold any sustainable solutions. “There is no manual. One thing is clear: we can’t continue on the same path” (Gunning, 2011). This shift to a new paradigm is clearly visible in the development of Dutch urban areas and urban development policies. Besides the physical components, economic and social aspects have become more and more important in the sustainable development of neighbourhoods. A lot has been achieved in the past year, but the expensive approach of urban renewal has been overtaken by economic crises. Investments in the sustainable development of disadvantaged areas appear to come to a halt. We need a new, radical innovative, approach to continue the economic, social and physical development of our neighbourhoods. The concept of sustainable area exploitation offers interesting opportunities for such a new approach. This concept responds to societal changes that have altered and often limited the possibilities of the usual actors in urban renewal. Municipalities, social housing associations and other stakeholders see their roles changing due to a their new financial situation and political uncertainty. Furthermore, the distribution of power has changed over the past years. As Sorensen already pointed out in 1994 (p. 198): “our era is reconsidering the ends and means of governments in general in view of limited public finance; concerns over national economic efficiency; and a growing community preference for individual responsibility, self-help, and small government”. Enterprises have gained more power and citizens are forced to become more self-reliant. In neighbourhood development, a shift is visible from government to urban governance, in which new stakeholders are addressed on their societal responsibility. Governments are not only forced to seek cooperation with citizens and market parties due to the previously mentioned societal changes, but these other actors also desire themselves to be more involved. Residents and entrepreneurs want to have their say in their own residential, living or working environment. KEI and NICIS thus of “urban renewal on invitation” (2012). This research has tried to explore the possibilities of sustainable area exploitation as a concept for sustainable urban renewal. The focus was hereby on energy conservation as a value creating intervention. Energy conservation meets the demands for sustainable development, as it does not only create economic, social and environmental value, but also saves financial or negative external costs in all these domains. Furthermore, energy conservation is the first step to a more durable energy system. The most sustainable energy is surely saved energy! To study the possibilities of energy conservation within sustainable area exploitation, a case study was conducted in one neighbourhood in Haarlem: the Slachthuisbuurt. The central research question was formulated as follows: To what extent can sustainable area exploitation through energy conservation realise successful urban renewal in the Slachthuisbuurt in Haarlem?
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen