Energy Conservation Interventions in Administrative Buildings: The Czech PEOPLE Case Study
In the Czech PEOPLE case study, researchers at Charles University in Prague and their industry partner VÚPS carried out a study on the efficiency of conservation interventions in administrative buildings. Theirs was one of the four PEOPLE case studies, conducted within the PEOPLE project’s 1st Learning Cycle. In our PEOPLE Learning Cycles we apply people-centred approaches to real-life, industry-identified challenges to show the relevance and value of social sciences to energy efficiency and sustainability industries. Students of anthropology, sociology, psychology and related fields worked alongside their academic as well as industry mentors and applied social science research methods to their respective industry or business challenge.
In addition to experimenting with people-centred development approaches outside of the traditional classroom setting, the students gained a number of industry-relevant skills. (Read more about the goals of the PEOPLE project and aims of our Learning Cycles). All four PEOPLE project teams presented their research in the 3rd issue of the PEOPLE Newsletter, published in June 2018, and later on shared their findings with other PEOPLE teams at the Co-Creation Camp, held in Amsterdam on 4 & 5 July 2018.
Below, we share with you the Czech students’ reflections on their interesting research and intervention, as well as their preliminary findings.
The Czech PEOPLE case study had three objectives:
- to decrease energy consumption in administrative buildings;
- to employ the knowledge of social science about people’s behaviour in policies aiming at a higher efficiency of public buildings;
- and to engage students of social science in a practice-oriented research.
The intervention was designed to motivate city (and state) office workers to regulate temperature in their offices in order to conserve energy. The efficiency of the intervention that employed a combination of feedback and goal setting was be evaluated on the basis of real changes in energy consumption and also of changes in behavioural intention to conserve energy. Four master students of sociology and related fields participated in all the stages of intervention study. They prepared interventions and evaluation questionnaires, analysed data and drew conclusions with both practical and scientific relevance.
THE CZECH PEOPLE CASE STUDY
“Within the Czech Republic, we conduct a study on efficiency of conservation interventions in administrative buildings. In fact, we are conducting a social-psychological experiment that aims to motivate the inhabitants of the buildings, city (and state) office workers, to regulate temperature in their offices in order to save energy. In three selected office buildings, we have addressed the workers to reduce the heat consumption in their office for some time. This was done under the pretext of modifying the boiler technique. Participants did not know they were being researched. Involved participants were asked to accept a commitment to reduce energy consumption in the office (less heat). It also included a prequestionnaire about their activities in the office, but also on environmental behaviour. After the measuring, participants filled out a postquestionnaire for us – to see how the situation changed after our intervention. Besides designing research and preparing methods, we surveyed the first selected building and analysed the resulting data. We are currently measuring in the second chosen building.”
“Our intervention in the first building had an effect on the usually set temperature, but not on individual auspicious activities (such as closing doors, wearing warmer clothes). The measurements in this first building can be considered as a pilot of the research as we had few participants and have been able to adjust some techniques to be used in the other buildings.”
WORKING WITH INDUSTRY
“We have found that working with industry can be challenging, for it is not always easy to understand each other’s perspective right away, coming from different fields of study. However, we have still been able to conduct our research and collaborate with VUPS and look forward to present our findings.”
MOST UNEXPECTED EXPERIENCE, DISCOVERY OR INSIGHT
“We found that it is much more complicated to motivate employees to participate than we assumed. People not necessarily wanted to fill out our questionnaire and accept a commitment to reduce consumption.”
The students, working on the Czech PEOPLE case study were:
- Nela Andresová (MSc, Sociology)
- Michaela Kudrnáčová (MSc, Sociology)
- Anna Šarapatková (MSc, Sociology)
- Štefania Simonová (MSc, Social and Cultural Ecology)
Featured image photo by Kateřina Kaprová.