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Recruiting citizens to use ICT for saving energy in public buildings

Panel: 5. Energy use in buildings: projects, technologies and innovation

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Georg Vogt, empirica Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Technologieforschung mbH, Germany
Strahil Birov, empirica - Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Technologieforschung mbH, Germany


Recruiting people to do or partake in something is a hard task in itself. When this something is a novel technology targeted at a wide range of audiences, this task becomes even harder. A recipe is needed that contains a variety of ingredients – behavioural change and change management both in and outside of organisations as well as marketing, branding and appropriate communication channels. In the best case the recipe enables others to follow it and replicate the strategy on their own.

ICT-enabled energy efficiency services have been introduced in eleven European municipalities and 600 buildings as pilot sites for the European project SmartSpaces. Public buildings pose a special challenge for the strategy, as the recruitment target includes both organisation members (e.g. office workers, museum clerks) and the public or citizens that visit the building. In this sense the recruitment is not just an organisational problem within institutions, as is typically the case with such enterprises. Involving the public requires coming up with unconventional ideas that work on a wider audience and are still effective.

The municipalities have joined efforts in identifying suitable recruitment strategies and developing materials and messages to promote their ICT solutions for energy efficiency. Successful approaches include an as-is analysis, development of the concept of “champions”, using the organisational structure to communicate, creation of tailored messages and slogans and conceptualising a consistent branding strategy. Organisational burden such as cross-department coordination and usually not relying on having to convince citizens had to be overcome.

This paper presents a replicable recruitment strategy based on SmartSpaces and explains how it has been applied within the pilot sites. Analysis follows the phases of the change curve by Kubler-Ross, as understanding citizens’ needs and behaviour is central to a successful recruitment strategy. Additional KPIs such as results from energy savings support the assessment. A case study for Bristol will be presented, having been selected as a ‘project to be watched’ by the UN-GlobalPulse BigDataChallenge on Climate Change.


Download this paper as pdf: 5-236-15_Vogt.pdf

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