Flexible, sustainable and high quality living

In 2035 we want to live flexible, sustainable and high quality lives. We wish to have ample choice with regards to where we live, what we eat and how we move around.

For example, we want to live in communities where we produce our own food and energy and where we share products with our neighbours. At the same time however, we want to have instant access to high quality, healthy meals, cooling and heating networks, the living space and the mobility services all over the world. We also want to pay for these services in a novel way, for instance, by physically excercising.

Sustainable life means that all resources are, to the extent possible, renewable. High quality refers to comfortable and healthy lifestyles that allow space for individual choices. Also our ideas about ownership change. In 2035 we have access to goods rather than possess them. In this flexible, sustainable and high quality living energy is only an enabler.

This implies that we need to arrange our energy system in a different way. These implications are both of technical as well as organisational nature: we need to consider how we translate our physical activity into payment units for energy or transportation; how we measure and record the material and energy intensity of products and services; what system can facilitate a prosumer behaviour; how we make energy universally available and accessible for all; what the new roles of consumers, utilities or state actors are and how are the new responsibilities divided?

The vision

This image is an outcome of a visioning meeting with various representatives of society. Academics, students, policy makers, industry representatives, trend-watchers and laymen brainstormed together on an autumn afternoon about how they would like to live in 2035. We talked about what we want (desirable future) rather than what is possible (likely future).

The centre part of this image presents a summary of the deliberations: a snapshot of the desired life in a local setting. It shows how we want to live, produce food and move around. In this setting energy is a utility that allows for flexibility while ICT facilitates a prosumer behaviour. We want to produce energy in a variety of ways: from photovoltaics or wind turbines on the roofs, by using energy generating bikes in offices or by exercising in the gym. We want to store energy in an energy cloud and either use it for our own purposes or trade it for mobility or food services. The energy balance is kept in our electronic dossier.

Our houses are well insulated and zero-emission. We care for comfort and can move them to other locations. We can also freely move ourselves and domesticate places available elsewhere. To the extent possible we eat home-grown food and consume less electricity and less heat. Balanced production and consumption is our goal.

Th0s visioning session was organised by the Innovation Sciences of the TU/E

 

And KIC InnoEnergy.

 

 

This text has been prepared by Anna J Wieczorek and Geert Verbong.

Mobility

The need to be mobile is an inherent feature of human beings. We travel to work and for pleasure. In 2035 we talk about mobility rather than transport and we care about freedom. We have a great choice of possible modes of moving ourselves and our goods (that we often purchase online).

There are different mobility patterns as well as multimodal and smart solutions. They are mostly concentrated in the city hubs which have a layered infrastructure. Bike and walk paths as well as (e-)bike stands are universally available on the ground. Train, metro and other forms of public transport are located underground or in the tunnels. Such organisation of transport system helps improve the fluidity of the service and makes it more human-centred.

We want mobility to be safe and zero-emission. The fuel therefore has to be renewable and friendly for the environment and for people. Vehicles can be electric, hydrogen, hybrid or solar-powered. If they are electric, then charging is possible everywhere. The vehicles are also producers of energy.

Food

In the future we want to grow our own and sustainable food either in a traditional way (if land allows) or on the roofs of our houses. We use certified seeds bought from open depositories. For production in greenhouses we use local CO2 and/or residual waste and biomass.

Everyone, but especially those citizens who do not produce own food, have access to an extensive network that informs about availability of local foodstuff and meals.

We see eating as a social activity but when we do not have the time to cook, we would like to have access to high quality high-tech meals, can be 3D printed, but must be healthy and fresh.

Any GMO production is state-owned, strongly regulated and controlled. Municipal grounds are used only for edibles.

living

In 2035 we live in small-scale, zero-emission and self-sufficient houses. The houses are movable or modular. ICT by means of apps facilitates the sharing of products, meals and cars.

There is a high diversity in organisation of our cities. We can chose to live in a community where students do social work by helping elderly. Or we can live in high-tech apartments. The outside environment whether in the city or outside is green. There is no noise, air, soil or light pollution.

Energy

We want the energy acquired by our houses or earned by our physical exercise to be stored in a personal energy dossier in a cloud and made accessible from every place in the world. We want to trade it for mobility or food services or sell it to our neighbours.

Transition

A transition to a more sustainable, flexible and high quality life may take various forms and directions. For example, it can imply a change of our view of the city space and how we share it with the nature: if we want to produce our own food in urban areas we might need to consider the food-living ratio; if we want to live in an urban area but in a close vicinity of green, we have to reconsider the way we bring greenery to the city and how we integrate urban with rural space.

A transition may also require a radical change of our behaviour: away from the use of hotels during holidays to the use of other people' houses or to buying food and energy that is local and traceable only.

different ideas

The concepts to describe the desired way of life in 2035 that were most often used during this visioning session include: flexible, free, sustainable, balanced, connected, harmonious, comfortable, efficient, close-by.

They express our strong desire of having a choice and a possibility to realise it. To show the different directions, pathways and modes that the transition to a more sustainable and flexible life can take, in what follows we present a selection of some individual images.

mobility is a chair

To reduce the burden of the individual use of cars, we want to shrink them to just one chair that can either be automated or effortlessly steered. The chair will be a means that can help us get to work, visit family or friends, go sporting or realise our passions.

Shared ownership

In 2035 we have access to rather than own cars. We share them with others and use for a number of purposes: social, work or pleasure. Cars of the future are automated and self-driving. If electric, they are charged on the road or have leased batteries that can be easily changed or charged. The energy that powers the batteries is fully renewable.

Mobility is not about efficiency

Travel is an endeavour in 2035. When we move for pleasure, we want to experience travel, have fun and see places. It can therefore take longer and be slower. In this vision cars are toys for boys and used for racing only.

Flipped mobility

Instead of real mobility there are ample opportunities to travel virtually, especially when we want to experience racing or visit musea and distant historical places. You do not need to move, it is the world that moves to you.

Change battery

If vehicles are electric, they are either wirelessly connected to the grid via the road infrastructure or they make use of a battery. The battery can be easily changed when exhausted, which saves the charging time and allows for continuation of a longer trip. The batteries can be charged at home or at dedicated service points.

Magnetic train

High speed magnetic trains replace airplanes. The entire public transport is free of charge. The provided transit is rapid, smart and on demand. Especially utilitarian and long-distance trips are significantly shortened. The trains and shuttles are multipurpose and carry not only people but also goods and parcels.

Mobility is freedom

In 2035 we have a different perception of mobility. We see it as a service and car is no longer a symbol of status. It is not the mode of travel that is important but the freedom to move. We prefer to walk. ICT via simple apps facilitates instant provision of information for all modes.

New jobs

A switch to renewables and different way of organisation of our lives creates a range of job opportunities and endless health benefits. All of us but especially social workers spend part of their working time on considering ways for further improvement of human well-being in various spheres of life. One of such ideas is to have food facilitators (instead of postmen) who distribute by bike fresh vegetables and recipes for an evening dinner.

Vegetables are available everywhere

There is a great variety of fruit and vegetables universally available. They are locally-grown by small producers, safe, and full of vitamins. No fertilisers or pesticides are used. Food is artisan in character. There is hardly any industrial production and any meat in 2035 but it is can be created in the lab and 3D-printed on demand. There are also high-tech meals made available for a higher price.

Energy food label

Although we grow our own food locally, we also have access to global choice of food. However, we are always fully informed about the origin of the meals and foodstuff as well as about their fuel intensity, transport costs and CO2 emissions. If any chemicals are used to grow the food products, this information is included in the label next to the nutritional facts. Our food has low energy impact and a low-carbon FOOD-print. For higher impacts we pay much more.

food waste

In 2035 we do not waste food. We buy and prepare as much as we can eat. We also eat less and smaller portions. We earn air miles for producing no or less waste.

Local food production

Through ICT networks we have constant access to information about ongoing local green gardening or opportunities to start one in the neighbourhood. We grow our own veggies in the kitchen, on the windowsill or on the roof.

Food as a service

We plan our meals better to reduce the delivery time. There is a fast demand response to make sure the meals are fresh.

food system

In the future there are no supermarkets but cooperatives. Farm is our shop. Or alternatively, food is delivered directly to homes or restaurants. Restaurants can also serve as intermediaries between production and consumption of food.

Modular houses

Our houses are modular and it is possible to decompose them. When our children grow up and want to move away, they do not need to buy a new house. They can take a module from their parents’ house and move it elsewhere. They may live individually or join an existing community. They may also complement the existing module with other elements. In 2035 it is possible to easily move our office from one place to another.

Edible environment

Nature that grows around us is edible. We can pick on leaves and branches and taste them.

Flexible living

We can ‘domesticate’ new places all over the globe and have a choice of where we live. It can be an urban or a green rural area.

Super-tech houses

Our houses of 2035 are super-tech and smart. For example, on the walls we can project the type of environment we want to live in. We can also communicate with the houses on a distance by means of apps. The supply of energy is linked with the activity pattern of the household members. We can use different forms and sources of energy for different times of a day or a year. For instance, solar for a day peak in the summer time or wind, geothermal and own waste for the night and in the fall. If energy is provided by the grid, we are always informed of the source of the energy.

Flexible living

In 2035 we are interested in services rather than products. We want to share houses, cars, meals, energy, etc. Living is about living 'where we are' and using other people’s apartments. The ‘world citizen’ subscription' makes it possible. If we move with the house, the infrastructure makes it possible to easily connect it to the the grid. Our houses are equipped with photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. They can produce energy and discharge it to the grid. Such a system allows for flexibility: we can choose locations to live that are either in or outside of the city. Movable houses are small and personalised. We can chose to share our lives with the community or disconnect from the outside world. A ‘wise city’ makes us feel free.

Adjustable building

Our houses are easily adjustable. We can add new elements that are, for example, 3D-printed.

Energy cloud

Energy acquired by exercising or produced by our houses is available everywhere from a cloud. The ‘world citizen’ subscription makes it possible to easily access it. This membership is bill-less, managed by means of apps and provided by a globally-connected smart grid infrastructure. The grid allows for a two-way flows of energy and also makes non-Wi-Fi-based connection possible all around the globe. The system is backed up by simple, IKEA-style, antenna batteries that can be purchased for homes in every shop. This new model of energy generation and distribution provides for a high range of green jobs.

Energy game

Using energy becomes a game: how can we use as little as possible? We compete with our neighbours just like in the old days we used to compete with them on who gets a better car. This new competition takes a form of an energy battle.

Energy account

In 2035 our lives change radically so must also the way energy system is organised. There is a new model of energy accounting. Our ‘world citizen' subscription is linked to our physical activity pattern. The more energy one generates the more ‘air miles’ can be earned and used for e.g. free long-distance travel.

my home creates energy and is disposable

In the construction sector we mimic the nature where there is no waste. Our buildings are self-sufficient, made of smart natural materials that can harvest energy or are edible and entirely disposable. 

Local and traceable

We produce energy and food in a responsible way. We always know where it comes from. For living we produce our own local energy. The electricity grid for such small scale is embedded in the local communities and takes the form of a smart (cluster) grid that allows for discharge of produced energy to the larger grid. Communities also have local storage facilities and are independent of the large utilities. Large-scale and industrial energy production is concentrated close to the industry and away from the living environment.

Integration rural and urban

Integration of rural and urban is shameless. It is made possible by movable houses, smart infrastructure, by local, roof production of food and gardening. 

Food-living ratio

The food production is proportional to the living space. We produce sufficient amount of food to reduce waste. We use new food resources that are tolerant for extreme conditions and that can be grown on the roof tops.

Social behaviour

We are proud of living in a balanced and harmonious environment with respect for nature, animals and other people. There are policy incentives in place that support the change of bad habits and help build awareness. Food is equally distributed all around the world. Obesity and hunger belong to history.