Transition Templates: Pathways to Net Zero

Lead Research Organisation: Bath Spa University
Department Name: Bath School of Design


This project will use design skills and knowledge to create pathways for Net Zero and wider sustainability transitions in five sectors of the UK economy. Design researcher Dr. Joanna Boehnert of Loughborough School of Design and the Creative Arts will work with the service design agency Livework to set up a knowledge exchange process between sustainability scholars and systemic-service designers. Working within the Livework Sustainable Futures Lab, we will conduct participatory systems mapping and systemic-service design processes for socio-technological transitions in five sectors in the UK: household energy use; food; fashion; transport and institutional energy use. We will build capacities to envision, develop, and enact Net Zero proposals in each sector.

Livework is an independent strategic service design studio with offices in UK, Netherlands and Sao Paulo and a pioneer in service design. Dr. Joanna Boehnert is a design academic with a background in design for sustainability, the visual communication of complexity, systemic design, and responsible design. This project is based on their collective analysis that sustainable transitions are difficult to achieve within current design business models with single client customers. Sustainability transitions require systems-level forms of design. The Livework Sustainable Futures Labs aims to facilitate design innovation work at this level and bring outside organisations into this collaborative space. This project will significantly accelerate this direction while developing strategic design outcomes that can be used to facilitate systemic transitions in entire sectors.

A new Transition Template design process will be applied to envision low carbon models for the delivery of services and goods. The first step is synthesis mapping of existing work, expert and stakeholder consultation, and participatory system mapping. This process will inform the creation of transition templates and timelines for each sector. We will use the Transition Design theory of change to plot transition on different levels with systemic mapping practices to create large-scale visual templates displaying action plans on different stages and levels.

We will work with sustainability scientists, researchers and practitioners using new design practices to articulate and visualise their proposals. The transition templates and timelines can not only be used to guide action plans in each sector but also become a basis for development of evaluation systems to categorise levels and stages of transition. The work will seek to encourage best practice by creating classification systems to assess and communicate different levels and/or stages of transition. We will design outcomes to inform socio-technological transformation of entire sectors along with assessment communication systems to counter the deleterious impact of greenwashing.

The same process will be applied to each of five sectors in rotation. The mapping synthesis of existing literature along with a participatory system mapping and expert consultation process will inform the creation of the transition templates and timelines. We will use systemic design and service design approaches to map transition pathways and design assessment systems to identity, evaluate, categorise, and communicate levels of transition. The project will result in communication design outcomes (system maps, templates and timelines); reports (one for each sector and collected in a final report); and public engagement outcomes such as exhibition material (i.e. systems map as posters) and other learning resources. Design outcomes will all be freely available on the project website. We will also publish academic research (journal papers). Design outcomes will encourage best practice with classification systems to communicate different levels and stages of Net Zero and sustainability transition.


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