Improving energy efficiency in dwellings is generally seen as the low-hanging fruit of climate change mitigation. In particular decreased heat loss through better insulation is suggested as one of the most cost-effective means to achieve the ambitious national and international goals of climate gas reduction. However, the literature shows that a profitable technological solution is not sufficient to reach the energy goals. Aspects such as a lack of information, unobserved costs, and heterogeneity among users can compromise the success of technical innovation. Still, there are successful concepts that drive the technological development in the construction sector. The Passive House is an example for such innovations that manage to bridge the energy efficiency gap. This paper addresses the Passive House concept and standard as a success story of technological innovation. With Bruno Latour's Science in Action (1987) as a starting point, we describe the conditions under which the standard was created, the role of the network built around the Passive House Institute, and the consequences of exporting the standard. We identify success factors that have supported the diffusion of the Passive House standard and concept and discuss its possible development in the current situation which is characterized by its wide-spread adoption.
Large scale energy efficient renovation of buildings is one of the most important tools to realize the society's need of a more sustainable building stock. Most Norwegians own their own homes. Therefore private homeowners are a focus group for the government urging to accelerate the dwelling energy efficiency rates. Success factors were identified in the in-depth study of the decision process of eleven homeowners. Large differences in energy use due to the building's condition and the occupants' behavior was encountered in the sample. Only homeowners who were conscious consumers and did not trust expert advice or that had special knowledge due to their professions succeeded in realizing energy efficiency by renovation. Lack of knowledge, bad advice from craftsmen or priority to work that they can do themselves stopped other homeowners from implementing energy efficiency. Increased knowledge on all the gains from energy efficiency, the availability of attractive products and services as well as easy access to reliable advice on the better renovation solutions have a large potential to get more homeowners to make energy efficient choices in the process of renovation. Coordination of more of policy strategies including specific information and incentives are needed to facilitate this.
The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings - Annual Report 2012
The article's aim is to present user experiences with passive houses and zero-energy buildings. The focus is on the interaction between the building and the users, specifically on how user interfaces, knowledge, and commitment influence the use of the building and the level of energy consumption awareness.
This article proposes a new area of research centered on the study of how energy sensibilities—in terms of esthesia which is understood as responsiveness and awareness—are distributed and redistributed. Energy is approached as a polyphonic concept with many meanings, of which none enjoys privileged status. Given this polyphony, the common observation that end-users have no idea (or wrong ideas) about their energy consumption loses importance. Instead, unevenly distributed ways of sensing and making sense of energy become the object of study. Drawing on the work of French philosopher Jacques Rancière, the article discusses contemporary distributions of energy sensibilities in domestic settings and how they have been redistributed during the previous two decades. Analysis of visual representations of bathrooms in the largest Norwegian interior lifestyle magazine and 600 real estate advertisements shows how a specific, resource-intensive energy sensibility has become dominant through a politics of refurbishing.
This is a report on a study conducted in the spring of 2011 to examine the cultural and social conditions associated with rebound effects on the household level. The goal of the study was to conduct an empirical, qualitative exploration of the conditions that favour rebound effects. In economics, rebound effects are defined to occur when a measure intended to increase energy efficiency actually contributes to an increase of energy consumption. Examples of conditions that favour rebound effects include using heat pumps for cooling, leaving energy‐saving light bulbs on for longer periods or neglecting to shut them off entirely, or driving an energy efficient car more often at higher speed over longer distances.
To shed light on rebound effects occurring on the household level, in this study we aim at contributing to a better understanding of the meanings that households attach to energy‐saving investments in general and to examine conditions that result in unexpected reductions of the effect of energy efficiency investments. The material for this study was gathered through in‐depth interviews with the representatives of 17 households in the Trondheim region. Each interview lasted about an hour. The majority of the respondents were drawn from a group of approximately 100 households that had received funding from Enova SF to procure technology for improving energy efficiency. In the interview, we asked respondents about their commitment to the environment, energy practices, energy technologies and their relationship to the energy bill and their energy supplier/utility company. In particular, to identify situations where rebound effects might arise, we examined respondents’ reports on their experiences of introducing energy efficient technology into their household, their everyday energy practices, and the ways in which this new technology forced or warranted change in their energy consumption behaviour.
The current state and future challenges of energy and buildings research are explored from the perspective of the social study of science. Major trends in knowledge production are considered for practices within current energy and buildings research. New forms of knowledge production hold the potential to provide clearer strategies to overcome barriers between researchers and practitioners. These are investigated through an explorative survey of researchers based on their own accounts of energy and buildings research, their expectations of future challenges, and their perceptions of ‘good’ science. Two sets of challenges from knowledge production arise for building energy research. First, with an increasing focus on environmental and other impacts of the research, the framing and definition of these extra-scientific factors will become a significant challenge for researchers. Second, as buildings become simultaneously more complex and more connected, the already existing need for the integration of different kinds of expertise will increase further.