From 5th-7th September 2016, The Urban Institute hosted a group of urban scholars from Hong Kong, Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, India and the UK, in the final meeting of the INCUT network (ESRC-funded International Network on Low Carbon Urban Transitions), organised by Dr Rebecca Ince, Prof Simon Marvin and Lucy Dunning. Despite surprises such as tropical weather in Sheffield, carpeted walls and repeated fire alarm drills, the workshop was very productive!

Day one began by exploring Sheffield’s low carbon transition context: firstly, from a material systems perspective from Engineering’s Dr Danielle Densley-Tingley, and secondly, from a socio-political perspective from the UI’s Dr Aidan While. The group then attended two ‘Infralabs’, investigating transitions at work in Sheffield. In the Heeley neighbourhood, we explored Heeley Development Trust’s various community-level projects including cycling schemes, digital literacy, regenerating green spaces, and SUM Studios – a ruined Victorian school building transformed into energy efficient studios for local businesses. At Callow Place, we saw part of Sheffield’s district heating network, and heard from Sheffield City Council and metering company Switch2 about the process and impact of upgrading residents on the network to smart heat metering and a new billing tariff, as well as installing new heating controls, insulation and efficient boiler plant as part of a system-wide upgrade.

Day two started with a vibrant debate about the dramatically different transition logics evident in the two Infralabs, then moved onto a series of think-pieces exploring the intersections, presences and absences of multiple urban transition logics – low carbon, smart and resilience – in different cities across the world. The workshop closed on day three with a discussion about the future of the INCUT network and its comparative work.  The next steps involve the completion of a book project based on the work of the network edited by Andres Luque, Simon Marvin and Harriet Bulkeley and planned for publication in 2017.  Further workshops are likely to take place exploring the intersections between smart cities, digital technologies, urban nature and infrastructure flows.

Many thanks to all for attending, and to Andy Jackson from Heeley Development Trust and Richard Hawson and team from Sheffield City Council for hosting us.