NWO funds research on just transitions in the nexus of mobility, energy and housing

Through the "Mobility in a Sustainable Future" program, NWO has committed funding for a four-year project exploring how challenges in mobility, energy and housing can be addressed together. The consortium is led by Utrecht University and brings together a diverse group of academic and societal expertise.

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The JUSTNEXUS project will explore how to foster just sustainability transitions at the intersection of mobility, energy and housing. “This is important because while current approaches are often still sectoral, both challenges and solutions transcend these sectors,” say project leaders Maarten Hajer and Toon Meelen, both based at Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development.

The future of mobility, energy, and housing

JUSTNEXUS will explore new overarching visions of what such a cohesive approach might look like using a "Museum of the Future" — a platform for exchange and inspiration. At the same time, experiments, for example where housing associations offer shared mobility, electric vehicles feed power back into the grid and citizens organize sustainable transport in cooperatives, will allow concrete exploration of solutions.

The consortium project has several interconnected lines of research. One line focuses on methods for developing future visions for mobility, energy and housing. Another will look at how different ownership structures, namely public, private and communal, can contribute to just transitions. Researchers will also study business models at the intersection of mobility, energy and housing. Finally, the consortium will develop more transparent algorithms that can, for example, regulate the availability of shared electric cars. 

A broad consortium of researchers and social partners

The research is led by Maarten Hajer and Toon Meelen of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. In addition to researchers from Utrecht University (Flor Avelino, Jasper Sluijs, Peter Pelzer, Mihaela Mitici, Koen Frenken, Annelies Huygen), the University of Amsterdam (Luca Bertolini), Maastricht University (Marc Dijk & Nancy Bocken), Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (Karla Münzel & Mieke Oostra), and HAN University of Applied Sciences (Frans Tillema) are also involved. International research partners are the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford (Tim Schwanen), and the Mobius lab at Bocconi University in Milan (Fabrizio Zerbini).   

From the mobility sector, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Louwman Innovation, Digital & Data, Studio Bereikbaar and CROW-KpVV are supporting the project. Rasile group and de Groene Huisversters join the project from the housing sector. The municipalities of Leeuwarden, Amersfoort and Helmond are also participating, offering testing grounds for studying the intersection of mobility, energy and housing.

In addition, several "learning communities" will be set up in the project in which lessons learned will be shared at local and national levels. Here, unusual suspects and partners from the various sectors are involved, such as concept designers Rinke Vreeke and Tom Loois, “National Thinker” Marjan Slob, the Municipal Network Mobility and Infrastructure, EnergievanOns, FrieslandLease and MyWheels.  Through ROC Midden Nederland, vocational students are also participating. Other interested parties may also join.