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Once upon a time... How to tell a good energy efficiency story that 'sticks'

Panel: 1. Foundations of future energy policy

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Sea Rotmann, SEA - Sustainable Energy Advice, New Zealand
Ruth Mourik, Duneworks, The Netherlands
Barry Goodchild, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom


The International Energy Agency's Demand Side Management Programme Task 24, called 'Closing the Loop: Behaviour Change in DSM - From Theory to Practice' has been working with 100s of experts in over 20 countries to crack the toughest of nuts - how to turn behaviour change theory into actionable practice.

We encountered a variety of obstacles on our almost 3-year journey so far, but the biggest one was undoubtedly the silo nature and in-built areas of conflict between different players in the energy system, including the different research disciplines studying behaviour. Our largest workshop to date, kindly sponsored by the UKERC Meeting Place, was held in Oxford in September 2012. We now fondly remember it as our 'baptism by fire' - where the issues mentioned above became glaringly obvious and our proposed method of attack was the one being attacked (rightly so, and it gave us the chance to modify and improve it). However, we also stumbled across the solution to dealing with so many experts from different disciplines and sectors, thanks to a collective desire for a more constructive way to discuss behaviour change after 1.5 days of criticism and debate. This golden circuit breaker that made us end the last half day of the workshop in harmony and with great energy and enthusiasm is the power of storytelling.

On our long journey since this workshop, we have delved deeper and deeper into how to use different ways of storytelling as a powerful tool to cut through jargon, conflict points and different mandates of our 'behaviour changers' in different sectors (government, industry, research, the third sector and intermediaries). We would like to tell some of these different types of stories and how they can be used successfully to impart the important message that the energy system is after all, all about human beings.


Download this presentation as pdf: 1-181-15_Rotmann_pre.pdf

Download this paper as pdf: 1-181-15_Rotmann.pdf