World Café Method to Engage Smart Energy-District Project Partners in Assessing Urban Co-benefits
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Urban energy-district projects introduce outstanding technological innovation in buildings and energy systems increasing sustainability in city neighborhoods. Such projects generate additional co-benefits for the city beyond changes in physical elements and development of social and institutional relationships (e.g. local employment, environmental quality, public health, property values, innovation attitude, etc.). Since exceeding main declared goals or not always clearly foreseen in the early project phase, these co-benefits are often not properly understood and considered. However, only their explicit recognition will make possible their inclusion in the assessment of the whole project’s performance. From these considerations, this study faces the issue of engaging project partners in assessing co-benefits in order to consider a broad spectrum of relevant, positive effects in the evaluation process. Group knowledge and group thinking of this complex topic are investigated through the world café method, providing an atmosphere of trust and open discussions among participants. This empirical work lays the foundations to go beyond the mere economic measure as the sole criterion for assessing project effects, also including changes in end-user behavior and intangible assets.