Energy behaviours in non-domestic buildings

A ’Rapid Evidence Assessment’ for DECC

13 November 2012

'Decisions are social' ... 'Size, and sector, matter' ... 'Energy is invisible'

These are the three key findings that emerge from a report into the energy behaviours of people occupying non-domestic buildings like offices, factories and health centres, co-authored by CSE and Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute.

The report, which was published this month by DECC, takes the form of a Rapid Evidence Assessment - a systematic distillation of a huge quantity of material, in this case over 6,000 journal articles, 600 conference papers and around 30 studies for national governments or the EU.

CSE's Nick Banks led the team."Obviously you can't develop an evidence base on so much material, so you have to be selective. Using appropriate exclusion and quality criteria we whittled this huge corpus of work down to a managable 56 studies for further detailed analysis.

"From close study of these we were able to draw useful conclusions on which DECC, or others, can begin to develop policies that will affect the behaviours of people working in non-domestic buildings - anything from a car factory to a library - so that they become more energy aware.

"The three key messages are firstly that decisions are social - that is, the decisions made by individuals are heavily influenced by the a social context they're operating in, and may not be based on rational criteria such as cost/benefit.

"Secondly, size, and sector, matter. The 'energy efficiency behaviours' exhibited by an organisation depends to a large extent on its size and on sector it operates in - though not always in the way you'd expect.

"Thirdly, and for me the most interesting, is that energy is invisible - even for companies that have hefty, multi-million pound energy bills. It simply doesn't rank highly in the minds of senior managers."

You can read more about the project here and download the report here.

Stay up to date with our work - sign up for our fortnightly newsletter