Livable and Sustainable Cities : Explorations of the City Soul and Energy-Efficient Housing based on Swedish Data on Citizens’ Preferences

Abstract: Contemporary cities face many challenges, none the least from an urban planning perspective. Global climate change and urbanization is putting pressures on planning for combatting and adapting to, e.g., a warmer climate and an increased need for housing in already dense environments.The aim of this thesis is to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of residents’ opinions and preferences regarding various aspects of city livability and sustainability. Two of the papers discuss energy-efficient housing and two the identity/soul of the city and its neighborhoods. The papers are empirically oriented and rest on relatively large quantitative materials of Swedish data. The database used in the first two articles contains around 77,000 observations of single-family homes. The residential survey used in the two final papers was sent to a random sample of 6,600 residents in four cities, resulting in 2,573 respondents.Regression is the primary analytical method and the results indicate a preference for sustainable housing, in terms of a price premium on heat pumps (attributes that both reduce the energy consumption and are easily observed in the house). It is further suggested that the perception of a strong city/neighborhood soul is linked to positive relations to the city and to positive perceptions of its physical characteristics. In particular, feelings of attachment, belonging, and pride as well as perceptions of aesthetics, arts, and symbols, seem to be linked to a strong city/neighborhood soul.The presented research contributes to related literature through providing insight to Swedish residents’ preferences and opinions concerning energy-efficient housing and the city/neighborhood soul. It is shown that a citizen perspective based on carefully designed databases and appropriate analytical tools can be used by planners to gain new insights supporting urban livability and sustainability efforts.