New doctoral researcher: Jan Gerhards

Jan Gerhards has joined the International Eco-Cities Initiative as a new doctoral researcher working on urban sustainability frameworks.

He is carrying out his doctoral project as part of an ongoing collaboration between the International Eco-Cities Initiative and Bioregional, the social enterprise behind ‘One Planet Living’, one of a growing number of sustainability frameworks seeking to translate the principles of sustainable urban development into practice. The project is being supervised by Professor Simon Joss (University of Westminster), Dr Tony Manzi (University of Westminster) and Dr Matthew Wood (Bioregional).

Whilst product certification schemes are commonplace, similar types of tools are now being used in the highly complex area of urban sustainability – with even cities being certified or endorsed. This research project looks at the issue of standardisation vs. flexibility across complex, varied contexts. One aspect of the research involves analysing the way ‘legitimacy’ is generated within Bioregional’s existing, somewhat flexible framework and endorsement scheme, in contrast to other more standardised approaches. The research has a practice-based component which looks at more detail at the issues arising when indicators and targets are used as part of such schemes, across contexts, also using the concept of legitimacy.

Jan obtained his first degree in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, where he participated in research and community projects on low-carbon buildings, and carried out his dissertation on well-being and climate change. After university, he worked in the renewable energy industry before moving into the education sector, developing a secondary science teaching programme aimed at engaging students with sustainability issues.

For more information on eco-city frameworks, see the Eco-Cities Initiative’s Tomorrow’s City Today report.