Matériaux & Techniques
Volume 108, Number 5-6, 2020
Materials and Society: transitions in society, materials and energy
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Environnement - recyclage / Environment - recycling|
|Published online||26 April 2021|
SME’s, energy efficiency, innovation: a reflection on materials and energy transition emerging from a research on SMEs and the practice of Energy Audit
Knowledge & Innovation,
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Accepted: 27 November 2020
The paper presents some results emerging from the EC funded INNOVEAS project, particularly from a study on the non-economic factors that prevent (or facilitate) the adoption of energy efficiency measures and energy audits by SMEs. This study and its results are relevant for a reflection on the role of SMEs for the adoption of new business practices and technologies (including materials) that are conducive to a green transition. Attention will be paid also to those obstacles and facilitating factors that are relevant for the promotion of the circular economy – which is also, in fact, a strategy for achieving energy efficiency. The paper is based on the view that materials are a special type of technology and, as such, are the result of a social construction process. From this angle, materials can be thought of also by considering the actors involved in the process of their development and use. The life cycle of materials, in particular, must be analyzed also considering the role that different actors play in it; not only the technical characteristics of the materials have to be considered, but also the social context of development and application of materials. Such assumptions can be used also for interpreting the role of the actors in the challenges that contemporary societies are facing, particularly the promotion of energy saving and of the circular economy and more generally the transition towards decarbonization and dematerialization. In this paper, the focus is on a particular type of actors, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). They constitute a plethora of economic actors operating in numerous production sectors and at different levels of the value chains. SMEs orientations are important for achieving a better knowledge of the cycle of materials, especially in relation to the possibility of directing it towards the pursuit of environmental objectives such as energy saving and the circular economy. The paper stresses that considering the role of SMEs in such wide social and economic innovation process should illustrate peculiar aspects of the “internal” life of SMEs (culture, organizational skills, etc.) as well as the interaction with other actors within the context of operation of SMEs.
Key words: SME / energy efficiency / circular economy / materials / social innovation
© SCF, 2021
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