An introduction of the concept of lived experience and energy vulnerability for the design of fair and resilient smart city projects

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Submission Summary
Smart city projects are increasingly important for the energy transition in Europe, but there are concerns about its fairness and how to include the most vulnerable sections of society. Their inclusion is also vital to increasing social acceptance of new energy practices and infrastructures. There are challenges in the energy vulnerability of the targeted population at every step of the process of the smart city design. The conception of energy vulnerability challenges the narrow notion of energy poverty increasingly taken into consideration in policymaking and research. This notion is overly focused on the triad of the causes (income, efficiency and energy prices) of the phenomenon (Longhurst & Hargreaves, 2019). Conversely, a broader conception of energy poverty encompasses wider issues in the population in terms of energy vulnerability and justice, such as needs, flexibility and practices (Bouzaroski & Petrova, 2016). Under this perspective, the lived experience concept has been proven fruitful in energy poverty literature but, to our knowledge, has not been used yet in the context of smart city projects. This presentation introduces the rationale, theoretical frameworks, and the preliminary findings of an ongoing study that uses the lived experience concept in the context of a smart city project. It investigates citizens' points of view and their involvement within a project realised in Bolzano (Italy), targeting four social housing building complexes. The study is also informed by literature on energy vulnerability, justice, and social psychology, including people-place relations. These concepts and the lived experience framework allow us to take the participants' perspectives within their cultural and material circumstances. At the same time, it critically and holistically captures their needs and priorities. As such, it allows to explore citizens' vulnerability in their daily lives and within the design and implementation of the projects and will enable understanding whether their priorities are reflected in the project. Bouzarovski, S., & Petrova, S. (2015). A global perspective on domestic energy deprivation: Overcoming the energy poverty–fuel poverty binary. Energy Research & Social Science, 10, 31–40. Longhurst, N., & Hargreaves, T. (2019). Emotions and fuel poverty: The lived experience of social housing tenants in the United Kingdom. Energy Research & Social Science, 56, 101207.
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Associated Sessions

Research Assistant/ PhD Candidate. Smart Beejs project

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