This page is an on-going collection of ideas and examples of Transition Engineering projects.


Research Contributions, Methods and Models

Energy use arising from oil, coal, or natural gas will be audited and monitoring systems established. Analysis of any and all technical measures and adaptations in operation or behaviour will be carried out. An action plan and change management project will be developed to accomplish two outcomes:

  1. 10% reduction of fossil fuel consumption in the audited operations within 12 months.
  2. 80% reduction of fossil fuel consumption in the general performance of the operations and infrastructure by 2040.

                 62343_Oil FOE

Meta-Analysis of world oil production as probability of availability

Community, Organisation and National Strategy

The Transition Engineering research group has carried out data gathering, modelling and strategy building work for a range of communities over the years. 

  • Oil Major - in the early 2000's one of the largest oil global producing companies commissioned a science, engineering and market analysis of the potential for hydrogen as a transport fuel. HYDROGEN REPORT
  • City of Dunedin - The oil price spike in 2007-2008 generated interest in risk assessment for essential activities that depended on imported petroleum fuels. The DCC commissioned a research project to provide a strategy for 50% reduction in oil demand by 2050. DCC REPORT
  • Palmerston North City Council - The high cost of fuel, and the role of Palmerston North as a road freight hub motivated commission of a study with Abley and Market Economics to explore how the regional economy and the city could adapt to using less diesel and petrol. PN REPORT
  • New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) commissioned research to use shadow odometer data and create a method to assess the vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) for residents at the census unit level. NIWA REPORT


Transition Engineering Workshop: Brainstorm Ideas Beyond Targets

Innovation Workshop Page

There is no question that global warming is a critical issue for all engineers, but in particular for any engineer that designs systems that rely on fossil fuels, or that produce fossil fuels. In 2015 ahead of the COP21 meeting in Paris, a series of workshops were held in different countries. The workshops used the Transition Engineering approach, and pushed participants to innovative brainstorming to develop project briefs for transitions that eliminated fossil fuels in specific systems in specific places, within a specific time frame. A full description of the projects developed by engineering students are available on the Global Warming page.


Eating Out - Explore Shift Projects for a Restaurant in Grenoble

Eating a mid-day meal is an essential activity for students at most universities. More than 20 students at Grenoble ENSEworked in groups during the Creativity Challenge Week. They followed the InTIME method to develop shift projects for their university restaurant the CRUS. They learned about the history of lunch in France, the history of growth of universities and the development of restaurants and Cafeterias. They learned about the current organization and regulations of the CRUS restaurant which is a national provider of food services at French Universities. They investigated biofuel and electricity to replace the diesel fuel used in more than 99% of the delivery of food to their restaurant, RU GreenER.  They looked at the carbon emissions of different transport modes, the sources of the different foods and the way that local foods could be handled in the national food service context. They found a wicked problem - the restaurant wants to be green, but is constrained by cost and regulations and business inertia. The project then imagined how a national food service could operate to provide good nutrition at an affordable cost to students across the country, but with 80% lower emissions. They imagined that in 2116 the national organization could be providing logistics, menus, purchasing, organization, training and quality, but part of their business at that time would be actually developing local and regional relationships with farmers and producers and developing menus based on locally sourced ingredients with cooking, refrigeration and agriculture which all require very little fossil fuel and produce low emissions. It wasn't that hard to imagine how it would work once the imagination was triggered. Rather than tracking truck movements, running large warehouses, re-distributing exactly the same produce and products to all schools across the country... the CRUS would be a connecting media with direct relationships with local farmers and producer cooperatives, providing adaptive markets and adaptive food menu planning and delivery. It would be different, but it could be done, obviously. Biofuel and electric trucks cannot replace fossil fuels for current fleet and distances. Students then developed and implemented several shift projects that highlighted the new local menu and the roll of different foods in the carbon footprint of the lunch at the university. The outcome was positive and the CRUS is interested in further working with the university students. 

Watch a Lecture with Example Student Cafe Project


GRDF - A student carries out an InTIME project for a large French company

 Watch a video presentation by student, Helene CLEMENT.  GRDF has more than 30,000 employees and is responsible for the natural gas grid in France. GRDF sponsored Helen's 9 week project working with Susan Krumdieck and the InTIME research group at University of Canterbury in New Zealand. 

Transition of Natural Gas in France 


Personal Transportation in Dunedin, New Zealand

This exemplar project was carried out over 6 months in 2010 and represents the first major public application of TE methods. The personal transportation activity system in the city of Dunedin, New Zealand was the main subject of the study. The Dunedin City Council (DCC) commissioned a report to assess the "Peak Oil Vulnerability" of the city. The vulnerability was assessed, but then the strategic analysis method was used to develop concepts for development opportunities. Each opportunity meets the measure of merit of oil use reduction, but also provides for increased economic activities, improved safety, new jobs, better quality of life and enhanced community amenity. The DCC received the report and has started work on the recommendations. The report can be downloaded (HERE).

 The Urban Habitat

Humanity has recently reached a milestone of more than 50% of people are now living in cities. Of course cities were attracting people for thousands of years before the advent of public transport and the personal automobile. However, since the 1950's the urban form has been over run with petroleum driven personal automobiles. A tremendous investment has been made in transforming and building cities so that people could drive anywhere any time at the fastest speed possible. By any measure, the dominance of vehicle mobility over other values has come at increased costs in health, social cohesion, injury, infrastructure and pollution. We know just from basic logic, that over the next century, the use of oil will decline. By the turn of the next century, the personal vehicle age will have run its course. What is a good investment now? Engineering was used to construct the current cities. What tools do engineers need to participate in re-developing cities to deal with the wind-down of the oil age and the increasing instability of climate change?  There are many projects from AEMSLab researchers that are transition tools for urban regeneration and redevelopment. 

Visit the AEMSLab Transportation Transition Page


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