Citizen engagement for co-creating low carbon smart cities: practical lessons from Nottingham City Council in the UK

Preston, S., Usman Mazhar, M. ORCID: 0000-0003-2749-6408 and Bull, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-4372-3589, 2020. Citizen engagement for co-creating low carbon smart cities: practical lessons from Nottingham City Council in the UK. Energies, 13 (24): 6615.

1396189_Bull.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview


Cities constitute three quarters of global energy consumption and the built environment is responsible for significant use of final energy (62%) and greenhouse gas emissions (55%). Energy has now become a strategic issue for local authorities (LAs) and can offer savings when budget cuts have threatened the provision of core services. Progressive LAs are exploring energy savings and carbon reduction opportunities as part of the sustainable and smart city agenda. This paper explores the role of citizens in smart city development as "buildings don't use energy: people do". Citizens have the potential to shape transitions towards smart and sustainable futures. This paper contributes to the growing evidence base of citizen engagement in low carbon smart cities by presenting novel insights and practical lessons on how citizen engagement can help in smart city development through co-creation with a focus on energy in the built environment. A case study of Nottingham in the UK, a leading smart city, is analysed using Arnstein's Ladder of Citizen Participation. Nottingham City Council (NCC) has pledged to keep "citizens at the heart" of its plans. This paper discusses learnings from two EU funded Horizon 2020 projects, REMOURBAN (REgeneration MOdel for accelerating the smart URBAN transformation) and eTEACHER, both of which aimed to empower citizens to reduce energy consumption and co-create smart solutions. Although these two projects are diverse in approaches and contexts, what unites them is a focus on citizen engagement, both face to face and digital. REMOURBAN has seen a "whole house" approach to retrofit in vulnerable communities to improve liveability through energy efficiency. User interaction and co-creation in eTEACHER has provided specifications for technical design of an energy saving App for buildings. eTEACHER findings reflect users' energy needs, understanding of control interfaces, motivations for change and own creative ideas. Citizens were made co-creators in eTEACHER from the beginning through regular communication. In REMOURBAN, citizens had a role in the procurement and bidding process to influence retrofit project proposals. Findings can help LAs to engage demographically diverse citizens across a variety of buildings and communities for low carbon smart city development.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Energies
Creators: Preston, S., Usman Mazhar, M. and Bull, R.
Publisher: MDPI AG
Date: 15 December 2020
Volume: 13
Number: 24
Rights: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 18 Dec 2020 13:33
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:08

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year