Mind the gap when implementing technologies intended to reduce or shift energy consumption in blocks-of-buildings

Sylvia Breukers, Tracey Crosbie, Luc van Summeren

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If the designers of technologies intended to reduce or shift energy consumption are not sensitive to how people live and work in buildings, a gap occurs between the expected and actual performance of those technologies. This paper explores this problem using the concepts of ‘design logic’ (designers’ ideas, values, intentions and user representations) and the ‘user logic’ (related in this case to how building occupants currently live and work in a building). The research presented unpacks the ‘design logic’ embedded in DR approaches planned for implementation at four blocks of buildings in a Horizon 2020 funded project, called “Demand Response in Blocks of Buildings” (DR-BoB). It discusses how the ‘user logic’ may differ from the ‘design logic’ and the potential impact of this on the performance of the technologies being implemented to reduce or shift energy consumption. The data analysed includes technical working documents describing the implementation scenarios of DR at four pilot sites, interviews and workshops conducted with the project team and building occupants during the first phases of the project. The analysis presented identifies how expectations about building occupants and their behaviours are built into the DR scenarios (to be tested during the project demonstrations). Initial findings suggest that building occupants’ energy use practices and routines may be different from those expectations. The paper illustrates how the concepts of ‘design logic’ and ‘user logic’ can be used to identify mismatches before technologies are implemented. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving the design and implementation of DR.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalEnergy and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2019


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