Urban living lab as a circular economy ecosystem: Advancing environmental sustainability through economic value, material, and knowledge flows

Anil Engez*, Seppo Leminen, Leena Aarikka-Stenroos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Environmental sustainability is an increasingly relevant aspect of urban living labs. The objective of this study is to examine an urban living lab through ecosystem approach lenses and reveal the actor activities and diverse flows between them, enabling sustainable urban development. The study examines an urban area through four living lab projects in the Hiedanranta district in Tampere in Finland. We apply a qualitative research design strategy including semi-structured interviews reinforced with the project reports and websites. The collaboration and co-creation nature of living labs resembles an ecosystem structure, as both include diverse complementary actors and have distinctive coordination mechanisms, shared goals, and system-level outcomes. Building on the ecosystem analogy and circular economy ecosystem typology, our study examines living labs as ecosystems, enabling the economic value flow, material flow, and knowledge flow and pursuing the shared goal of improved environmental sustainability. The findings of the study demonstrate how the different ecosystem types manifest in urban living labs, and the actors, flows, and outcomes in these ecosystems. The study concludes that urban sustainability-oriented living labs comprise all main types of circular economy ecosystems. The dominant type of the activities (biased to economic value, material, or knowledge) determines the ecosystem type in an urban living lab, highlighting a key topic for future research: The contribution of collaborative projects to environmental sustainability in urban living labs realized through diverse ecosystem types.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2811
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Circular economy
  • Ecosystem
  • Living lab
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Resource efficiency
  • Sustainability
  • Urban living lab

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