Helen Gansmo IEA DSM Task 24 workshop on everyday users
Everyday users in practice:
operators of large buildings
as means Towards zero emission buildings?
Helen Jøsok Gansmo
STS, Department of interdisciplinary studies of Culture, &
The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings,
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Research back ground & objectives (Gansmo, ZEB)
ZEB center: eliminate GHG emissions caused by buildings by
– developing competitive products and solutions for
– existing and new residential and commercial/public buildings
– related to their production, operation and demolition.
# 1 Reduce energy demand
Most energy consumed by existing buildings. Very low replacement rate of existing buildings
– Retrofitting and adaptation – challenging
– Technologies – low adoption level
– Changing users – challenging
-> Sustainability will not be reached by technology alone
– Building operators - intersection between buildings, technologies and users
How to transgress towards zero emission buildings through learning from energy efficiency operation of
existing large buildings?
– investigating what and who promotes energy saving behaviour in large buildings, and how.
•What kind of “in between” actors exist?
•What energy management processes are developed?
•How do the “in betweens” learn and share knowledge in order to provide for environmental efficiency of FM?
• Building industry: “the 40 % sector” in an environmental context.
– 40 % of all use of materials and products are related to buildings
– Buildings account for about 40 % of all primary energy use (contribute to
significant GHG emissions)
• Reducing the demand for energy may be more cost-efficient than extending the
capacity in the energy supply system.
– A combination of making buildings more energy-efficient and using a larger
fraction of renewable energy is therefore a key issue to meet the global
challenges related to climate change and resource shortages.
– Reducing the energy consumption related to both existing and future building
stock complements the broad international research on new renewable energy
• Energy efficiency is the simplest and cheapest climate initiative
• Few property owners actually make their buildings more energy efficient
Existing buildings towards ZEBs
• In developed economies, at least half of the
buildings that will be in use in 2050 have
already been built.
– Replacement rate of existing buildings: 1-3% per
annum (Ma et al. 2012).
– France: 90% of 2020 building stock, 60% of 2050
building stock has already been built (Cantin et al.
• Energy efficiency measures in existing buildings
are essential for achieving the goal.
Research method (Gansmo, ZEB)
Case Description Users Energy management
4600 bedsits, 15 locations
20% of student population.
Aim: cheap rent & sustainable housing
0.5 – 5 years
(average 1.5 years)
Excludes “in between actors”,
relies on end-users
University 22 000 students
5 000 employees
7 campuses, 100 laboratory facilities
550 000 sq. m heated area
2-100 years old buildings
El & district heating: 100 GW
Involves “in between actors”
internally and externally.
Visual control, local knowledge
+ central operation system
short term rehab
8 300 sq m. Narrow, long, low
Temp range -40 to +30 °C
District heating: 1.1 GW
Electricity: 1 GW
3 days to 5 weeks
Same as above
Examples of in-house energy operation of large existing buildings with different
Qualitative methods/ethnography beneficial for
- investigating how the world may function
- exploring new actors not usually associated with energy efficient FM
Energy use => most significant environmental impact of buildings
PEOPLE operating the building’s energy use
Findings (Gansmo, ZEB)
Project design &
more local actors
ty to keep
Sum of case initiatives as measurements towards
• Case study buildings operated internally without professional FM
• Low degree of end-user involvement, but profit returned to end-users
• Energy efficiency management characterized by
– internal resources
– “personal” drive from (single) beacons
– local knowledge
– centralized operation systems combined with observations
• Driven by CSR and environmental goals rather than economy
• Argue that project design/development and operation must be regarded
together involving “in between” actors all the way
• Different socio-technical systems “in between” to enhance energy
Possibilities for new and innovative practices? (Gansmo, ZEB)
Facility A Facility E
Moving towards zero emission buildings through
- a mix of technological and human measures?
- new meetings between FM organisations?
Knowledge transfer between in-house and out-sourced FM?
Practice theory and further research
• Different theoretical approaches to what a practice is
– Difficult to follow empirically
– STS and ANT work as better tools?
• PT shifts focus from consumption/acquisition to practices
integrating the consumer good with other elements
– Rich descriptions of how artifacts are integrated in a lot of
everyday life practices
– ≈ STS and ANT
– “Practice turn” at the same time as “climate turn”
• Challenges existing modes for studying behavioral change
• PT good for studying social change, transformation of practices
– Proactive/prescriptive PT?
Practice theory and further research II
• My curiosity
– (How) can the notion of practice be combined with STS’s desire to understand technology and
– How can practice theory inform studies of transitions in socio-technical systems?
– Can lessons from engaging with practices of everyday practices be brought outside and
beyond the households?
– Is it possible to study practices in industrial or managerial settings, and if we do are we still
doing practice theory (or is practice theory reserved for the private sphere)?
• My main questions for discussion, as I struggle to find good answers
– What are the added values of practice theory to STS?
• Rich descriptions of private actions rather than lab and policy?
• Just another case of ethnography?
– Who’s practices can I study with practice theory?
• The consumers/ end users of the buildings?
• The operators managing and reducing energy consumption?
– (How) can I apply practice theory to contribute to change practices of energy operation of large
• Which approaches are better suited for this?
• Apply practice theory to study
– Events (Birtchnell 2012)?