DLGS, Falkenbrunnen, Würzburger Straße 35, Room 210
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DLGS 2023 (2023-2026)
The role of social innovation in supporting the transition of housing cooperative communities to a circular economy
Prof. Dr. Robert Knippschild, Technical University of Dresden;
Dr.-Ing. Georg Schiller, Head of Research Group Anthropogenic and Natural Resources, IOER
IOER Research areas:
Research Area Transformative Capacity
Research Area Built Environment - Resources and Environmental Risks
Climate change and the housing crisis are intricately linked, making them two of the most critical challenges of our time. By 2030, it is expected that 60% of the world's population will live in cities. This increase in housing demand within cities, will account for 75% of global energy demand and 81% of global consumption. Implementing Circularity principles offer a solution in that setting because it has the capacity to eliminate waste, minimise material and resource consumption as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In an attempt to benefit from what circularity offers the housing sector, housing associations and co-ops have recently begun to actively promote the use of circular principles and have expressed willingness to involve their housing communities in a transition towards circular economy (CE) models. Although there are multiple circular economy initiatives and strategies focused on housing and the built environment, these initiatives majorly focus on innovation through technical solutions, ignoring social aspects, user behavior, and practices. This technical perspective on circularity and CE reveals a gap in how circularity is implemented in the housing sector. This gap in providing circular socio-technical solutions poses the study's main research question: how can social innovation support the transition of housing co-ops towards a circular economy business model in the time of anthropogenic climate change?
Therefore, the study aims to investigate the role of social innovation in transitioning co-op housing to a circular economy model to create sustainable and resilient cities. Inorder to address the research questions and objectives the study adopts the conceptual framework of the theory of change. The study findings contribute to envisioning sustainable, resilient communities beyond 2030. In addition, it critiques present circularity policies, practices, and normative claims for being techno-centric, while addressing the role of community participation and socio-technical solutions in future co-creation and sustainable transformation.