Expert in behavioral change emphasizes the important role of the users in energy savings

In April, the international UserTEC Conference took place in Horsens, Denmark. The conference focused on minimizing the performance gap by considering user behavior in building regulations, and as such the important role of building users (tenants, owners, workers etc.) was put on the agenda. 

As part of the conference, the SURE! project talked to one of the main speakers, Dr. Yolande Strengers, who is is a Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, where she co-leads the Beyond Behaviour Change research program. She talked about ‘plugging the gap’ and understanding households and everyday life in order to optimize the effect of energy renovations. After her presentation, she elaborated on the important role of the user in energy savings – in the video below, you can see what she said.

 

 

Context
The EU’s building regulations will be revised within the coming year. This calls for consideration of how new knowledge regarding resident behavior can improve building regulations.

Building regulations are heralded as important means for improving energy efficiency in the building stock, because they lead to substantial innovation within the construction sector. However, research suggests that building component efficiency is now so high that it is building use that will be the main barrier for reducing building energy consumption in the future. When it comes to building use, there is a notable difference between the predicted and actual energy performance once the buildings are inhabited, and it appears that still more technically complicated buildings are not viable solutions.

he calculation methods, supporting the building regulations, are also used to promote energy efficient retrofitting of existing buildings, but these calculations risk being misleading. Research has shown that residents in poorly insulated homes are generally better at saving energy than residents in more energy efficient buildings, and that economic investments in retrofitting are, therefore, likely to have much longer payback times than calculated.