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Changing Behaviour is a project that aims to support change in energy use and energy services. We do so by applying social research on technological change to practical use. Our focus is on the interaction between energy experts and energy users: How can these different groups learn to understand each other better?

Changing Behaviour is an action research project. Researchers and practitioners work together to develop, test and refine tools for improved interaction that are sensitive to context, timing and the needs of different users and stakeholders.

Changing Behaviour is a European project that is funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme Energy theme (contract number: 213217). The project partners are from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the UK.
Book Review: Bertoldi, Boza-Kiss, Rezessy (2007)
Thursday, 31 January 2008 11:27

Bertoldi, P., Boza-Kiss, B. & Rezessy, S. (2007). Latest Development of Energy Service Companies across Europe: A European ESCO update. EUR 22927 EN-2007. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability.

This new report updates the authors' previous work in mapping out the European Energy Service Companies (ESCO) industry and understanding opportunities and obstacles to its development. ESCOs are organizations that deliver energy services or other energy efficiency improvements in users' facilities while bearing part of the financial risk involved in these measures. According to the report, ESCOs have a long history in Europe, even though they only became popular when reintroduced from the US. The European market potential has been estimated as 5-10 billion EUR per annum. The report shows how local context plays a role in the demand for ESCO services. For example, due to varying local framework conditions, the ESCO market has grown hugely in some countries (e.g. Sweden, Czech Republic) during the current decade, whereas in others there is a successful energy efficiency market without significant ESCO contribution (Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania).

This detailed and thorough report provides an up-to-date overview of the ESCO industry and examines its development in the local context of each of the EU-27 countries. At the same, it underlines one of the key arguments of the Changing Behaviour project: lessons can be learned from other countries, but local context matters, too.


Book Review: Midden, Kaiser, McCalley (2007)
Thursday, 31 January 2008 11:25

Midden, C.J. H., Kaiser, F., and McCalley, T. (2007). Technology's Four Roles in Understanding Individuals' Conservation of Natural Resources. Journal of Social Issues 63 (1): 155-174

The article points to four ways in which humans and technology interact that are important for resource conservation. Technology acts as an intermediary when more or less resource-conserving technologies are used for the same kinds of activities. Technology serves as an amplifier when it augments humans' possibilities to consume more natural resources by enabling new or more activities. Technology serves as a "determinant" when system designs afford or constrains certain kinds of behaviour. Technologies can also promote resource-conserving consumption patterns by, for example, providing feedback on behaviour (e.g. "smart metering"). The authors argue that the trend has been for humans to increasingly allocate control to self-regulatory technological systems, but that the right balance should be found between autonomy and control allocation. They argue that an intergrative, multidisciplinary approach is needed for designing policy interventions that help to conserve natural resources.

The arguments in this article are not very novel, but they are presented in a systematic manner. The overall conclusion supports the aims of the Changing Behaviour project.

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