Co-creation as a social process for unlocking sustainable heating transitions in Europe

Anatol Itten*, Fionnguala Sherry-Brennan, Thomas Hoppe, Aarthi Sundaram, Patrick Devine-Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Providing heat is a key aspect of social life and a necessity for comfort and health in cold climates. Even though heat accounts for a large proportion of worldwide carbon emissions and is the largest energy end-use, it has remained largely untouched by efforts to decarbonize. Efforts to do so meet significant economic, social-psychological, technical and political challenges. Much is at stake. But what can make a difference? One increasingly discussed potential solution is co-creation. It provides spaces for citizens to share what heating means to them and for stakeholders to build these insights into their programmes for change. However, while local authorities, grassroots, and community organisations are already implementing co-creation with homeowners and groups of citizens, there is a dearth of academic research focusing on the value of co-creating sustainable heating transitions. This indicates a lack of evidence on how these new forms of collaboration perform under which conditions and how they are embedded in the policy cycle. Drawing on European sustainable heating case studies where co-creation has been applied, we outline future areas where critical, engaged research could help us to understand how to unlock sustainable heating transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101956
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Citizen involvement
  • Co-creation
  • Energy transition
  • Heating
  • Multi-level perspective
  • Renewable energy

Cite this