The GreenRegio research project seeks to understand how transition processes towards low-carbon economies in the building sector come into being and develop over time in selected city regions. More specifically, we seek to develop ‘biographies’ of drivers and processes of green building innovations for four case studies: Freiburg (GER), Vancouver (CA), Luxembourg (LUX), and Brisbane (AUS). Two of the cases are relatively well known for their initiatives to mitigate climate change, in particular the building sector, whereas the other two have only recently become more active promoting green building.
The research is motivated by two arguments that have emerged out of recent climate change debates. First, cities are seen as strategic and maybe most effective scale to address climate change due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Municipal governments are also seen to hold considerable influence over land use, carbon control policies and other mechanisms to strengthen the green economy. Second, the building sector has been identified not only as the single largest contributor to human-related greenhouse gas emissions, the sector is also seen to hold the greatest potential to lower emissions based on the relatively low case of retrofitting existing or constructing new buildings, the availability of technologies and transition to green energy supply and demand.
These two arguments provide the starting points of our investigation of conditions and drivers behind innovations in green building in the selected case studies. Within the research project, we place emphasis on development paths, learning processes, and innovations. The focus of the case studies is not restricted to purely technological innovations but also seeks to integrate regulatory, procedural, institutional and other innovations and routines and their influence on the variation of the building sector. The project seeks to identify crucial innovations (technological, regulatory, etc.) and explain the factors and circumstances that have led to their success and broader acceptance in Freiburg, Vancouver, Luxembourg and Brisbane.
With the help of a number of micro case studies within each of the four city regions, we will compile case study specific catalogues of development paths and trajectories that will be available to inform policy debates and planning processes. However, due to limited transferability of findings between the case studies, we do not aim to provide a comparative analysis of the case studies or seek to formulate (normative) policy recommendations.