The use of cross‐cutting urban services (e.g. energy or water) has been proposed as a way of improving the performance of urban sustainability indicators. The purpose of this paper is to consider how this service niche approach might be applied to London's energy system.
Semi‐structured interviews with stakeholders from London's energy policy community are presented. A diffusion of innovation framework is then used to assess how the service niche approach fits with existing practice and consequently whether it is likely to be adopted in practice.
The service niche approach resonates with current indicator practice but it cannot overcome barriers such as a lack of political will or resources alone. While the method is therefore unlikely to be adopted as a wholesale replacement for existing strategies, it could be beneficial for complementary assessments.
A limited sample of six interviewees is presented but, by examining other service niches and performing a comparative analysis, the paper's conclusions could be extended.
To leverage the full potential of the technique, two expansion strategies are proposed: replication (creating multiple service niche assessments in complementary urban systems) and extrapolation (extending the niche activities of a local policy maker to regional or national level). Experts could play a central role in coordinating these efforts, collecting relevant data and analysing the aggregate results with policy makers.
The paper presents a new practical analysis of the service niche approach that should be of interest to both urban managers and urban sustainability researchers.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited