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Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1699; doi:10.3390/su9101699

Direct Impacts of an Urban Living Lab from the Participants’ Perspective: Livewell Yarra

Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, Curtin University, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia
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Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 16 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urbanization Strategies in Developing Countries)
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Abstract

Urban living labs have emerged as transition arenas for undertaking process-oriented and reflexive experiments in the multi-stakeholder governance of sustainability. This paper evaluates Livewell Yarra, an urban living lab in Melbourne, Australia, that brought together academic researchers and community actors to engage in experiments for low-carbon living. This paper evaluates transition team experiments in governance of the lab itself and community experiments in carbon reduction that took place in people’s homes and small group settings known as decarb groups. This paper’s primary research question is: what are the direct impacts of urban living lab experiments from the participants’ perspective? The research methods utilised include action research, asset-based community development, participatory co-design and most significant change research. This paper evaluates experiments in low-carbon living through data collected via stories of change from participant interviews. The results indicate that experiments in urban living labs create opportunities for social learning and empowerment, but also raise issues of leadership and ownership of transition governance. The findings suggest that Livewell Yarra could have benefited from clearer agenda setting and continuous monitoring to feedback results. The paper concludes by suggesting future research directions that utilise the operational processes of transition management to support experiments in urban living labs. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban sustainability; urban living lab; sustainability transitions; urban experiments; action research; transition management urban sustainability; urban living lab; sustainability transitions; urban experiments; action research; transition management
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Sharp, D.; Salter, R. Direct Impacts of an Urban Living Lab from the Participants’ Perspective: Livewell Yarra. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1699.

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