Digitally Engaging and Empowering Employees for Energy Demand Reduction: A New Approach for the Next Generation?
Opinion is divided over whether technical solutions or behavioural change strategies offer the best energy savings potential in buildings. Behaviour change initiatives could have impact given current estimates that 30% of energy in buildings is wasted. However, technical solutions epitomised by ‘smart’ cities and buildings, exhort the role of information and communications technology (IT) and the digital economy as offering significant potential for carbon reduction. Yet both technical and behavioural approaches share the same contested assumption: users are a hurdle to overcome rather than a resource to be utilized. This paper presents an alternative approach, informed by social media and public participation experts, reframing the relationships between energy management personnel and those using the energy. This paper presents new findings from a UK research project funded by the Engineering and Physical Research Council. Working with a local authority energy team and a user-group of building users (from energy managers to ‘ordinary’ users) Gooddeeds developed and tested digital technologies social media/smartphone tools to engage with, and empower, employees in the reduction of their building’s environmental impact. Findings from the first set of focus groups with the user group offer insight into the potential for a more collaborative approach to benefit building users through raising awareness of best practice with regards building energy management. In particular, collaborative approaches have the potential to empower building users with the tools and contacts to resolve issues more quickly. Yet there can be no ‘one-size’ fits all approach to non-domestic buildings with this research highlighting clear variations of engagement and interest in this approach dependent on building type.
Citation:Bull, R. et al (2014) Digitally Engaging and Empowering Employees for Energy Demand Reduction: A New Approach for the Next Generation? American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Conference Proceedings 2014, Asilomar.
Research Group:Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development