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From Sociotechnical Theory to Sociotechnical Practice: An Action Research Project. This paper describes a recently launched research European project called CHANGING BEHAVIOUR, which focuses on energy demand management programmes and the kind of information they need to change the behaviour of their target groups. More details about this project and its partners are available at the website www.energychange.info. The aim of the paper is to flesh out some of the assumptions underlying the project and to envision some of the challenges involved in implementing it.
This paper was presented at the Sustainable Consumption Conference in Budapest last October. We make it available here until the Conference Proceedings are published. Thanks to all whose data we have used!
Until recent years, the promotion of energy efficiency has mainly been the mandate of national governments and energy utilities. As energy markets have been privatized and opened up to competition, utility-driven DSM programmes have run into increasing problems and thus often had to be re-configured and re-invented. New intermediary organisations are also called for to tackle the demand side, such as specialized energy service companies (ESCOs), energy agencies, or specific organizations that gain their funding from public benefit charges.

A closer look at who is promoting energy efficiency in Europe today, however, reveals an even more diverse picture. Energy efficiency is promoted under a variety of headings, including climate change mitigation, sustainability, eco-efficiency or energy self-sufficiency. Moreover, the intermediary organizations working on energy efficiency include a variety of non-governmental organizations, public-private partnerships and regional or sectoral networks.

After painting a synthesized picture of the general problems confronting energy efficiency, our paper discusses the diversity of ways in which new energy intermediaries in old and new member states of the EU are working to promote energy efficiency, and the opportunities and challenges encountered by different kinds of intermediaries. We then turn to analyse the merits of ‘nesting’ energy efficiency within a broader climate or sustainability agenda. This broader agenda provides some advantages for the promotion of energy efficiency, but also some special challenges. We discuss the pros and cons of hosting energy efficiency under a broader agenda on the basis of recent findings from an EC FP7 funded study called CHANGING BEHAVIOUR.
file icon Glossary_(Dec_2008)hot!Tooltip 12/18/2008 Hits: 3634
The CHANGING BEHAVIOUR project analyses demand side management (DSM) programmes that aim at increasing energy saving and efficiency. The aim of this glossary is to help understand the nature and extent of activities that go under the notion of energy demand management, and provide definitions for the key concepts. The current glossary is published on 19 December 2008, and will be updated during the course of the project.
file icon JOACC_second_draft2hot!Tooltip 05/29/2009 Hits: 6104

For energy experts and energy intermediaries, energy efficiency is the most logical thing in the world. Unfor-tunately, energy end-users rarely see the world in the same way. For energy end-users, energy use is often ‘invisible' and rarely the subject of conscious decision. Thus, getting to know the end-user target group and finding the best ways to engage users are key issues for energy demand-side practitioners.
We draw on data collected in CHANGING BEHAVIOUR to explore user involvement in energy change. When analysing the ways in which our case programmes had learned about energy end-users’ needs, we found the following approaches:

  1. Surveys, interviews or group meetings
  2. Prior research, particular theoretical perspectives
  3. Experience from prior projects and similar examples
  4. User-driven project (or pilot project)
  5. Familiarity and informal interaction with end-users

We found that none of these approaches provides a ‘silver bullet’ to achieve success and change end-user behaviour. The approaches to learning about the end-users reflect slightly different approaches to planning. The paper explores the pros and cons of various ap-proaches to learning about end-users. We conclude that methods for engaging end-users should be context-sensitive and allow practitioners to go “beyond method” – and beyond the view of end-users as passive recipi-ents of approved solutions –  to adopt a relational ap-proach to end-users. This means understanding one’s own relation to the end-users and viewing the end-users in a broader dynamic context. Rather than examining and working with isolated end-users, there is a need for tools that address end-users in context.

file icon Paper_Feenstra_finalhot!Tooltip 10/06/2009 Hits: 5681
This is a paper submitted to a special issue of Energy Policy. It analyses different types of emerging low-carbon communities as a context for individual behavioural change. The focus is on how these communities offer solutions to problems in previous attempts to change individual behaviour. These problems include social dilemmas, social conventions, socio-technical infrastructures and the helplessness of individuals. We analyse four examples: Manchester is My Planet, Green Office, Carbonarium and Carrotmob. On the basis of an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of various community solutions, implications are drawn for further research and for the design and support of low-carbon communities.

If our paper is accepted, we will have to remove the paper from this site, but we make it available until then.
Changing Behaviour. The European Commission (EC) is not responsible for information presented on this website. The information on this website
does not represent the official viewpoint of the European Commission. Powered by Joomla! and designed by SiteGround web hosting.