Years Active: 2009-2014


Reducing energy use is a critical component of meeting carbon reduction commitments.  Much of the work in this area follows a physical, technical, and economic model of the built environment. Energy use has also been considered as a social problem rather than a technological one.

How societies are motivated to use or conserve energy has been a topic addressed sporadically by social scientists for more than a century. From this perspective, reducing energy use requires changes in the entire fabric of society, not just changes to the technologies involved with energy production and consumption.

However, much of the relevant social science work has been focused on changing the behaviour of individuals rather than considering social contexts, professional cultures, and institutional expectations that shape our activities, habits, and practices. The aim of this workstream was to increase the role of social sciences - e.g. social studies of technology, innovation studies, sociology, and anthropology - in improving our understanding of energy supply and demand.

In particular, the orientation was on broadening the research agenda beyond the study of individual behaviour in homes, asking what other problem frames and content areas could be used to increase our understanding of energy demand.  Particular topics pursued in this area include building professions and professionals, energy management in non-domestic organisations, and lifestyle research.

Key Outputs

  • Janda, K.B. (2013). Building Communities and Social Potential: Between and Beyond Organizations and Individuals in Commercial Properties. Energy Policy, doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.08.058.
  • Janda, K.B., and Parag, Y. (2013). A Middle-Out Approach for Improving Energy Performance in Buildings. Building Research & Information, 41 (1): 39-50.
  • Janda, K. B., and Killip, G. (2013). Building Expertise: Renovation as Professional Innovation.  Chapter 2 in Constructing Green: Sustainability and the Places We Inhabit. Rebecca Henn and Andrew Hoffman (eds), MIT Press: Boston.
  • Axon, C.J., Bright, S.J., Dixon, T.J., Janda, K.B., et al. (2012). Building communities: reducing energy use in tenanted commercial property. Building Research & Information 40 (4): 461-472.
  • Janda, K.B. (2011). Becoming Energy-Efficient Citizens. Britain in 2012, 9. ESRC: Swindon.
  • Janda, K.B. (2011). Buildings Don't Use Energy: People Do. Architectural Science Review, 54 (1): 15-22.
  • Willis, R. and Eyre, N. (2011). Using less: The new politics of energy. Green Alliance.
  • Eyre, N., Flanagan, B. and Double, K. (2010). Engaging people in saving energy on a large scale: lessons from the programmes of the Energy Saving Trust in the UK, in “Engaging the Public with Climate Change: Communication and Behaviour Change” (Eds. Whitmarsh, L., O’Neill, S. and Lorenzoni, I.)  Earthscan.
  • Eyre, N., Anable, J., Brand, C., Layberry, R. and Strachan, N. (2010). The way we live from now on: lifestyle and energy consumption. Chapter 9 in, Skea, J., Ekins, P. and M. Winskel (eds.) Energy 2050 - Making the Transition to a Secure Low Carbon Energy System. Earthscan.