eViz – energy visualisation for carbon reduction in buildings

Panel: 5B. Cutting the energy use of buildings: Policy and programmes

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Sabine Pahl, Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Pieter De Wilde, Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Julie Goodhew, Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Christine Boomsma, Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Rory Jones, Plymouth University
Steve Goodhew, Plymouth University

Abstract

People play a key part in the energy performance of buildings, through design, operation control and management (Mahdavi, 2011). A building’s energy use can be 40% above expectations (Yu et al., 2011) due to occupant behaviour. Occupants might heat empty rooms, open windows rather than turn down heating, and forget to turn the heating down when they leave the building (Parker et al., 2006). The eViz project presented here is a multi-centre project between four UK Universities that takes an integrated interdisciplinary approach between behaviour and building scientists to reduce energy use and thus carbon in buildings. Addressing the behavioural dimension allows for urgently required immediate responses, whereas many technological solutions have a time horizon of 10 years or more (Dietz et al., 2009). Additionally, behaviour change approaches do not require significant capital investments. A major obstacle in addressing the behavioural dimension is the abstractness and invisibility of energy (Darby, 2006; Fischer, 2008). If the problem is invisible, sustainable intentions are less likely to be translated into behaviour change of daily routines and habits. People feel psychologically distant from the problem (Pahl & Bauer, 2011). eViz uses visualisations to overcome this distance. Pilot data from three early stages will be reported. First, a mental models approach will report on occupant perceptions of energy in the home. Second, pilot data and a feasibility analysis will focus on an in-depth case study of three residential homes. Third, progress on a visualisation intervention in a student hall of residence will be reported. We use both psychological measures of energy understanding and attitudes and building monitoring data. The eViz projects is designed to influence the complex interaction between people and buildings to meet the carbon emission and energy efficiency targets needed to tackle climate change and ensure a sustainable future.

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