Re-thinking Energy Demand is a co-creation project between researchers at the University of Exeter and Devon County Council.

About the project

Local authorities (LAs) hold the potential to play a climate leadership role, showing responsibility by cutting emissions and associated energy use from within their own estates. To date, LAs have predominantly focussed on energy efficiency or supply side measures. However, current and future changes in the workplace environment – towards open plan offices, hot desking and flexible working for example – offer alternative avenues to reduce the energy demanded by employees.

A focus on employee needs and work environments opens up new research questions: How are demands for energy shaped by current and future working environments? How are changes in workplace practices effecting the energy demanded of buildings? It also offers the potential to create more comfortable work environments. And leads to the question: Can simple changes to practices or environments deliver comfort and reductions in energy demand?

Re-thinking Energy Demand is a co-creation project between researchers at the University of Exeter and Devon County Council. By explicitly looking at the social and technological contexts which shape routine energy consumption the project aims to build local authority capacity to develop successful strategies for energy demand reduction within its office buildings. The project is led by Karen Bickerstaff, Catherine Butler, Jake Barnes (University of Exeter) and Alastair Mumford (Devon County Council).

The research aims to co-produce a set of resources for Local Authorities that a) provide new insights into the social, technical and cultural factors shaping internal energy demand problems, and b) influence the policies and strategies used by local authorities to reduce energy consumption.

The project will run from February to December 2017 and is funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration grant.

“Whilst we are all agreed that the council needs to save energy and money, the means of doing so are less clear and harder to achieve. A lot of attention focusses on the installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies like insulation and biomass heating systems. Meanwhile an understanding of people’s influence on energy demand are frequently overlooked, which can be a much cheaper to tackle. This collaborative project offers the opportunity to re-think and explore how we understand energy demand, as well as seek new ways to tackle energy demand reduction.”

Alastair Mumford (Corporate Energy Manager at Devon County Council