This project builds on prior research undertaken by Karen Bickerstaff and Catherine Butler

Previous research

This project builds on prior research undertaken by Karen Bickerstaff and Catherine Butler on (a) the everyday social and technological contexts that shape energy consuming practices, and (b) the effectiveness of a range of low carbon policies that focus on changing individual behaviours. The primary focus of this research was on households and how to effect change in domestic energy consumption. Crucially, this project seeks to apply and develop insights to promote change in the non-domestic sector – specifically Local Authority sites.

More broadly, there has been significant academic and policy attention directed at understanding energy use and reducing demand in household settings. Far less attention has been directed at non-domestic buildings - currently accounting for around 18% of UK carbon emissions – which represent very different sites of (collective) energy consumption.

Meanwhile demand reduction is a high-level priority for local authorities (for a range of environmental, social and economic reasons), but progress has been very slow. Conventional modes of behaviour change, based primarily around raising awareness, are being viewed with growing scepticism and critique because they have largely failed to deliver transformative change. The research literature is also clear on this matter: evidence demonstrates that the provision of information alone is a very weak predictor of behavioural change. Existing research on workplace settings specifically points to a need for more sustained attention to the multifaceted and contextual drivers of employee behaviour and highlights the importance of meaningful engagement with employees in efforts to save energy.

Key research articles