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Research Statement


In public and policy discourse, "green" and energy-efficient planning and building practices are generally presented as a win-win response to many urban evils, including energy scarcity, air pollution and water quality, but also social ills such as spatial segregation and social exclusion. However, discourses around urban climate initiatives have not been uncontested in the scholarly debate. Research in the fields of political ecology and human and environmental geography has informed a heated interdisciplinary debate around the social implications of "green" urban agendas, highlighting their potential uneven socio-spatial impacts, and their likelihood to create new speculative geographies of growth, as well as new urban spaces of devaluation and decline.

An investigation of the social implications of ‘green’ regeneration plans is particularly cogent when these are implemented in disadvantaged neighbourhoods that are characterized by a history of concentrated poverty and social marginalization. While the retrofit of non-energy efficient housing complexes, and particularly of old social housing estates dating back to the 1940s-1970s, is seen as a core area of intervention in both EU and US climate agendas, extant research in residential retrofits shows that these programs are often associated with negative social externalities, including increased rental costs being charged to tenants, which can result in their displacement or eviction ("renovictions"). Yet, limited research has been conducted to investigate patterns of social and demographic changes that may occur as a result of green value-added renovations in areas of concentrated disadvantage, such as large social housing estates.

My MSCA-Global Fellowship research project SUSTEUS looks at three major environmentally sustainable plans that have been adopted in the regeneration of large social housing complexes in Europe, the UK and the US. The research is based on an extensive review of the development programs in use (with a particular focus on energy-efficiency and greening strategies, as well as regulatory measures to promote population retention and social cohesion), and a rich ethnographic study based on in-depth interviews with residents and stakeholders, with the aim to assesses the social, economic and cultural changes these plans are bringing in their communities.

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