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Energy and Behavioural Change

Energy and Behavioural Change

Global Challenge: Reducing people's individual and collective energy consumption and Greenhouse Gas impact

Our aim is to shed new light on greenhouse gas reduction by using ubiquitous computing technologies to resolve the disconnect between human activities and the impact they have. By finding out where the energy is utilised and identifying high and low-carbon consumption lifestyles we can then make informed recommendations on how to change behaviours and create lower energy infrastructures to move from high to low energy consumption and create environments that encourage lower impact lifestyles.


Monitoring and changing energy use, for example domestic electricity consumption, office environments, food purchasing, heating and transport, partnering with energy assessors, smart and eco housing developers. Relevant to facilities and environment managers.


  • Gain information that can be used to benchmark energy use, monitor it over time and make informed choices and develop policies on energy use from a personal to organisational level and beyond
  • Identify ways to cut costs and reduce environmental impact by reducing people's individual and collective energy consumption
  • Gain information that can be used to create environments that encourage low energy use

Our Services

We encourage enquiries from individuals to institutes to make use of our expertise and excellent facilities. Whether it's proof of concept testing, in-depth model validation, energy efficiency and monitoring projects or other energy related challenges, we welcome the opportunity to work with external researchers, businesses and other organistaions.

Working in Partnership

We have ongoing relationships with abroad range of industrial partnersincluding major food retailer outlets andare seeking new collaborations.

Case Study 1: Informing energy choices using ubiquitous sensing

Case Study 1

This 24 month project team brings together a multidisciplinary group of researchers from the fields of computer science, economics, ethnography and carbon profiling and is funded by ESRC Sustainability. The aim of the project is to explore the feasibility of identifying and informing people of critical moments in their daily activities that have carbon impact, so they can individually and collectively make savings, by creating digital end-user applications and probes focused around behaviour intervention for lower-carbon lifestyles.

We are working with communities using a novel set of technological and cultural probes, such as embedded motion and temperature sensors, smartphone applications, aggregated ‘crowdsourced' data and ethnographic field work, to deliver a richer understanding of behaviour that leads to lower carbon lifestyles. In particular, we are exploring the areas of domestic electricity consumption (and meal preparation, in detail), food purchasing, heating and transport. Our increased understanding of these areas will be fed into the design of behaviour interventions for energy change.

Case Study 2: Project Current: Understanding and changing the way energy is managed in an office environment

Case Study 2

Most existing studies of energy use tend to focus on the home, rather than the workplace. Current is investigating how to save energy and promote a more sustainable environment within an organisation, using the Lancaster University campus as a test-bed. To do this, we're focusing on people's everyday habits and how these are shaped in more or less sustainable ways by social norms, the technical infrastructure and the institutional set-up. We are exploring how routine activities that we carry out in the office (such as emailing, photocopying and having lunch) are related to the broader context of life on campus. We can then work together to figure out which elements of this framework need to change in order to make life at Lancaster more fulfilling, fun and sustainable for everyone.

We are testing out three potential ways of reducing energy consumption on campus:

  1. Product-level interventions: these are things that make an individual device more energy efficient – for example, replacing an ordinary lightbulb with an energy-saving one or fitting a ‘bye-bye standby' device that cuts down on standby wastage.
  2. User-level interventions: these are things that teach/encourage people to use technologies in more efficient ways: for example, posters encouraging people to switch off lights or instruction sheets telling people how to set their computers to hibernate automatically.
  3. Practice-level interventions: this involves helping, supporting and facilitating people to find different ways of working on campus that are more sustainable but which also make sense in the context of their everyday lives. For example, this might involve us re-thinking how we work so that we only switch our computers on when we actually need them, e.g. not automatically putting them on when we arrive at work if we are going straight to a meeting.

For further information contact:
Ian Nickson
Business Partnerships Manager
B9 Engineering Building
Lancaster University
+44 (0)1524 594259