The future of cities - digitalisation and climate change


During 2019, Professor Mattias Höjer was engaged by the Centre for the Future of Places to lead an area of research looking into cities, digitalisation and climate change. During 2019 a number of activities related to the area were carried out.

windows of an office building

Measured and steps for more efficienct use of spaces

In August, we finalised the preproject “Measured and steps for more efficienct use of spaces”, a co-operation with RISE and co-funded by the Swedish Energy Agency. Main fundings from the project are summarised in a paper submitted to Buildings and Cities, a well-known international scientific journal. The paper is right now under revision, after criticism from reviewers that was rather strong, but should be manageable.

The first outcome of this project is an analysis of the drivers, barriers and internal organization of space sharing initiatives from the perspective of building users. Space sharing can be understood through the interplay between tangible aspects (e.g. concrete benefits derived from sharing), organizational aspects (e.g. common decision processes and conflict resolution) and social aspects (e.g. group identity and views on appropriate behavior).

The second outcome is a similar analysis made from the perspective of building sector practitioners, e.g. architects, property owners and managers. In order to be easily shared, facilities should be flexible, adaptable and multifunctional. However, investments into such buildings are limited by regulatory issues (e.g. building regulations poorly accommodate shared facilities) and business-related issues (e.g. the difficulty of finding profitable business models for sharing).

One issue that was identified is that the performance of buildings (and in particular energy performance) is usually measured per unit floor area. This conceals the benefits of space efficiency (since a space-efficient building might have a high energy use per square meter but a low energy use per person or per activity). Therefore, the third outcome of this project has been a review and analysis of complementary metrics for energy efficiency that can be used to include parameters such as number of users, time of use, etc. Each metric serves a particular purpose. It is therefore relevant to use a set of complementary metrics, where each metric answers a particular question to support different decisions at different phases of the building’s life cycle.

logo of Exponential Roadmap 2030

Exponential Roadmap

Another important activity in the project has been the work with the Exponential Roadmap, resulting in an update of a previous report as well as a special version for policy makers presented to the UN Climate change meeting in New York in September and later to the COP-meeting in Madrid. By the end of the year we also developed a “Playbook” directed to businesses and presented at the World economic forum in Davos.

The Exponential Roadmap 1.5 is a report highlighting 36 solutions within seven different areas that would be crucial for halving greenhouse gas emissions the coming decade. Our work here has been to write the section on Buildings as well as taking part in the steering group of the project. In the buildings section, we highlight five solutions: Reduced use of space, More efficient building control, Better insulation, Low-carbon heating and cooling and finally Low-carbon construction.

Read more about the Exponential Roadmap (extern link)

Lokaldelning som norm

The third important activity within the project has been the work in a project lead by the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), where Mattias Höjer has been co-chair, with Anna Denell Vasakronan as chair and Liv Fjellander, IVA project leader. The work resulted in a report presented at an IVA-seminar in January 2020, and an opinion piece in Dagens Nyheter. The report presented what needs to be donce by the Government, Industry, Financial sector, Civil society and Academy in order to support a much higher level of shared office spaces.

Occupancy survey

In a fourth activity we have been working with a case study of how two departments of KTH are using their office spaces. A manual measuring of frequency is combined with some calculations of how much energy could be saved by using space more efficiently. This work is not yet finalized, but a paper will be submitted during spring. This has been in cooperation with University of Tokyo.


A few more activities should be added to the four below, but they are not direct project parts. The first is the finalization of the guide “ Digitalize for the Environment! ”, a cooperation with eight internationally renowned universities. Mattias Höjer has also been chairing the group Smart societies in the KTH Digital Futures  work. Another activity is Mattias’ role as advisor to Färgfabriken. It is not clear what this will lead up to, but we will see during 2020. Mattias has also submitted four papers to the ICT4S-conference in June 2020, but outcome of this is not clear. The papers are digitalization and environment in various ways. Finally Mattias wrote a chapter in a study material on the future of transport.

Belongs to: Centre for the Future of Places
Last changed: May 05, 2020