The technical set-up of a building provides all the information required for conventional technical measures, like deciding whether to upgrade the boilers or the chillers for best effect. However, as our purpose was to drive engagement behaviour change in a real community (or, at least, a collection of communities and individuals who share a building), we knew that we needed to understand the cultural context.

In the same way as one can map a specific physical opportunity space to make savings in a particular kind of building — which might have lifts, forced ventilation and manual lighting controls — in every building there is a specific cultural opportunity too. This means: what would people be willing to do in these places that would save energy and carbon, and what might motivate them to do that?

While some people told us that they would like to compete with each other, others told us that they would like opportunities to collaborate. It was clear that a small but committed group of people were taking carbon-saving actions and would like to do more, and were asking for better information about what the most effective actions were to take. Some users told us they would only take part if the carbon saving activity made their lives — or their jobs — easier. Some users told us they would take part in actions if there were treats or rewards available, with one user suggesting that rewards could be given to a favourite charity.

Some users told us that they were already taking some action (for example, climbing the stairs or cycling to work) and did not feel the need to take on any other actions. Others told us they had been taking action before, but gave up as they felt others weren’t joining in.

A few users expressed the view that all efforts should be focused on decarbonising the national grid rather than changing energy using behaviour. However, we did not receive any feedback that came from an explicitly ‘climate sceptic’ point of view.

As mentioned previously, one user expressed concerns about feeling social pressure to conform to carbon-saving behaviours; for example, being under pressure not to use the lift. Several users told us that they did not want to be ‘told what to do’ regarding carbon-saving behaviours, feeling that they would be happier taking action on their own initiative.

One Response to “Cultural opportunities”

  1. Everything we do requires engrey. Energy mainly comes from compounds that have carbon in them. Reducing your carbon footprint means essentially to live your life while requiring less carbon-based engrey. Therefore, using solar power reduces your dependence on electric power plants that burn fossil fuels (creating carbon dioxide and carbon soot).Buying local produce will reduce the amount of vehicle traffic that burn diesel or gas for power (that carbon dioxide again). You can eat less too, but there are limits.Using recycled paper reduces the amount of trees/live organic material cut down (organic material is full of carbon) to allow us to write.Recycled steel removes the need to mine and purify iron ore, saving electricity and fuel to process.Just remember, your footprint cannot be zero (you breathe out carbon dioxide too), and on top of that, you should (your choice) live a productive life, so at some point, it’s not about the size of your footprint, but the value generated per unit of carbon processed.hope that helps.

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