Consumption & Change Projects

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Current projects

Regional Review: building the case for resilient governance

This £60k project funded by Sustainability East involves developing and publishing a ‘Regional Sustainability Review’, which assesses the scope for positive impacts of sustainability on the regional economy, as well as establishes options for a funded network action delivery model. The report structure will look at the major components of the regional economy and way of life, offer conclusions and perspectives on future sustainable economic growth and related issues, and assess opportunities for possible extension or continuance of the SE mission. The exercise will be a vehicle to reach out to some major players in the region; providing updated intelligence and drawing the networks together to consider integrated actions and greater success. This project will run from February 2016 to October 2016.

GSI researchers: Dr Chris Foulds Collaborators: Dr David Arkell (Institute for International Management Practice, ARU), Carly Leonard (Peterborough Environment City Trust).

Energy in Water (e’Nw)

This two-year 250m Euro project is led by the GSI and aims to share knowledge on the energy-water nexus, with a particular focus on developing a joint internalisation strategy and a roadmap for action. The Consumption & Change’s role in this project is to lead a work package (WP2) that examines the state of the nexus in Europe. This includes identifying cross-sector priorities at the water-energy nexus, analysing the characteristics of the regions and SMEs involved in leading action on the nexus, as well as exploring the requirements of innovating technology supply and demand.

GSI staff: Dr Michael Green, Dr Chris Foulds, Katie Hiscock Collaborators: Asociación Valenciana de Empresas del Sector de la Energía (Spain), Centre for the Development of Eco-enterprises (France), CLEAN (Denmark), Water Alliance (Netherlands), Zinnae (Spain), EA Eco-Entreprises (France).

Balance Network

Digital technologies are changing our personal lives, the way we work, and the interplay between the two. The Balance Network is an EPSRC-funded initiative that aims to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to research and practice relating to Work-Life Balance issues in the Digital Age. The network is led out of the GSI, and complements other work within the Consumption & Change theme on the use of digital technologies for achieving sustainable outcomes. The Balance Network will host Beyond Balance, a one day conference in London on Jun 27, 2016, and will run through Jan 2017.

GSI staff: Dr Rosie Robison, Stephanie Cziczo Collaborators: Dr David Kirk (Newcastle University)

Sustainability: New Questions, New Answers

In June 2013 Dr Rosie Robison ran a workshop for a dozen sustainability researchers, artists and practitioners, on issues of human (over-)consumption and limitations in current social interventions and research methods. We recognised that consumption issues affect everyone, regardless of class, education level or ethnicity, but that different groups have different languages to express these experiences in. At this workshop the idea for Sustainability: New Questions, New Answers was born: a collection of accessible and engaging pieces to prompt conversations about everyday sustainability with a wider (non-academic) audience. This collection was published in November 2015, and is freely available online. We were awarded small grants funding by Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Philosophical Society (£1k) and the ESRC Festival of Social Science (£500).

GSI staff: Dr Rosie Robison Collaborators: Alison Armstrong, Adam Corner, Kris de Meyer, Sarah Marie Hall, Rachel Howell, Tim Hughes, Tim Mitchell, Sarah Royston, Nicola Spurling, Erica Thompson

Use of online monitoring tools

The energy requirements of most of our everyday tasks are invisible to us at the point of use. It can be difficult for us, as householders, to get a feel for how much energy different activities typically use, and potentially modify our behaviour based on that information.

This project, a collaboration with researchers at the universities of Oxford and Surrey, is looking at the effects of energy feedback mechanisms - where users track their energy use via a webpage which provides graphical displays - on consumption patterns.

GSI researchers: Dr Rosie Robison, Dr Chris Foulds Collaborators: Catherine Bottrill (Pilio Ltd), Dr Russell Layberry (Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford)

Green Deal trials

The Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insights Team, The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), published a paper, Behaviour Change and Energy Use, in June 2011. It announced five trials, three of which focus on testing interventions to increase uptake of energy efficiency measures in the domestic sector. The Green Deal is the Coalition Government's flagship policy to increase the energy efficiency of buildings in the UK, reduce emissions from homes by 29% and help meet carbon reduction targets. It will enable households to install energy-efficient measures: from loft, cavity and floor insulation, to innovative hot water systems and solar PV at no upfront cost. Three different incentive structures will be tested to evaluate the impact of incentives on overcoming the 'hassle factor' associated with loft clearance, and the impact of financial and community incentives on uptake of energy-efficiency measures in the home. We're contributing to the design of these trials with local authorities and the commercial sector to determine how best to increase uptake, and which incentives are most attractive.

GSI researcher: Dr Aled Jones

CONNECT2020: CONsumer Networking towards the EU's Energy and Climate Targets 2020

Consumer 2020 is a strategic framework for the novel use of existing consumer ICT capabilities. It suggests filling out the framework with innovative, simple to deploy and powerful initiatives that can be implemented across the EU's member states within existing legal framework and business models. Consumer 2020 focuses on maximising the use of existing schemes, and using ICT to disseminate information that influences behaviour change and ensures the EU's 2020 energy and climate targets are met with minimal legislation implemented. CONNECT 2020 involves collaborative work with selected EU Directorates led by INFSO. It's assessing the extent to which the initiatives described in Consumer 2020 are on track, and will allow the EU to reach its 2020 energy and climate targets – as well as wider Europe 2020 targets of economic governance, smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

UK farmers' perceptions of climate change

We're currently working in collaboration with Sustainability East on a pilot project to develop an understanding of farmers' perceptions of climate change in the UK, as well as current mitigation and adaptation practices.

Past projects

  • Sustainable energy in the countryside: research into energy efficiency and renewable heat in rural areas, funded by Campaign to Protect Rural England, £15k total, 2015.
  • Co-ordinating ‘Practices, the Built Environment and Sustainability’ network's collaborative activities, funded by Anglia Ruskin University, £7k total, 2014-2015.
  • Digital Epiphanies funded by EPSRC, £245k total, 2013 -2014.
  • Smarter meters, funded by EPSRC (via SSN+), £3k total, 2014-2015.
  • SMARTLife: Retrofit for Business, funded by European Regional Development Fund, £490k total, 2011-2014.
  • Retro-fitting of social housing, funded by Energy Savings Trust, £130k total, 2012-2014.
  • Attitudes to low energy homes in the UK, funded by Skanska, £48k total, 2011-2012.
  • Evaluation of the Green Deal Trials, funded by South Cambridgeshire District Council, 2013.
  • Building Performance Evaluation, funded by Technology Strategy Board’s Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network (MBE KTN), £131 total, 2011-2014.