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.
Read the full article HERE