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How to involve residents in the Sustainable Nieuwolda project

On 7 July, the Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited the Sustainable Nieuwolda project.

The project ‘sustainable Nieuwolda’ is about empowerment of a village in the Netherlands, which changing population has implications for social and economic developments. The population of Nieuwolda decreased since 2010 with 5%. The village ages, 20% of the age of the habitants is over 65. Schools, shops and other amenities disappear. The challenge is to work with the use of the residents themselves on an economic recovery or progress.

Involving users early in projects helps to understand real-world accessibility issues and helps to implement more effective accessible solutions. It also broadens perspectives in a way that can lead you to discover new ways of thinking about the change you want to achieve.

The main premise of this project is to achieve the involvement and participation of the residents and local companies as the support of the inhabitants in and around Nieuwolda. This approach will have consequences for the process of the project. The process is robust and flexible furnished so (possibly changing) needs and ideas of the people can be integrated optimally.

This project also calls for the involvement of major substantive expertise, both in terms of technical measures, and financial resources for the realization of a sustainable economic environment for the village and organizational aspects. The major challenge of this project is to empower the people of Nieuwolda in order to show successful tangible examples.

During the project ’Sustainable Nieuwolda’ different methods of involving all parties into this project have been realized. The first steps to be taken is creating awareness for all habitants and (local) business. This includes tenants from the housing company but also private house owners.

  • A bus tour to Lathen (Germany) for all interested parties. Lathen (Germany is a village which is producing its own energy). All meant to raise awareness about the topic.
  • A meeting for tenants from the housing company Groninger Huis, residents got information about the plans for renovation. Only the frames for the plans were clear. For the practical implementation of the plan input was asked for to the tenants. On this evening 15 visitors showed up.
  • A meeting for private house owners. During this meeting house owners got information about energy management measures and house technology. During this information session visitors got information about the savings they could reach on their energy bills. The municipality offered a subsidy when house owners decided to implement measures. On this evening 58 visitors showed up.
  • A meeting for local companies and farmers. Also during this meeting visitors got information about energy management measures and house technology. Also for these parties the municipality offered a subsidy if companies and farmers decided to implement measures. On this evening 18 visitors showed up

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The project ‘ Sustainable Nieuwolda’ is still going on. The construction of the two sight homes will start in November 2015.

Report of the DANSON model used during the project “Sustainable Nieuwolda” (Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen) (PDF)

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