Linköping University Post Print. Energy behaviour as a collectif: The case of Colonia: student dormitories at a Swedish university - PDF

Linköping University Post Print Energy behaviour as a collectif: The case of Colonia: student dormitories at a Swedish university Vasilis Galis and Per Gyberg N.B.: When citing this work, cite the original

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 21
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.


Publish on:

Views: 263 | Pages: 21

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Linköping University Post Print Energy behaviour as a collectif: The case of Colonia: student dormitories at a Swedish university Vasilis Galis and Per Gyberg N.B.: When citing this work, cite the original article. The original publication is available at Vasilis Galis and Per Gyberg, Energy behaviour as a collectif: The case of Colonia: student dormitories at a Swedish university, 2010, Energy Efficiency. Copyright: Springer Science Business Media Postprint available at: Linköping University Electronic Press Introduction In the past few years, the conditions and characteristics of energy systems have changed dramatically. One of the most significant aspects of this change is the broad coupling of environmental issues and energy consumption. An increasing number of voices from different viewpoints argue that substantial decreases in energy consumption are a prerequisite for a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy system. Households and their energy behaviour are important in the development of long-term efficient energy systems. An American study has shown that households account for 38% of electricity and heating consumption in the U.S.A. Thus, they contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions (U.S Department of Energy, 2005; Woolsey-Biggart & Lutzenhiser, 2007: 1072). Carlsson- Kanyama and Lindén (2002) state that the household sector in Sweden accounts for 25% of the total Swedish energy consumption. The Swedish construction and housing sector account for approximately one third of the total energy use (Statens Energimyndighet, 2004). How, when, and why households consume energy are thus crucial questions for developing environmental policies and designing energy-saving houses. This paper presents an empirical investigation of households energy behaviour with the conceptual support of actor-network theory (ANT). From an ANT perspective, energy consumption can be regarded as an emerging property of differences and relations: a mixture of heterogeneous materials such as humans, artefacts, lifestyles and practices. A later development of ANT has given birth to the concept of hybrid collectif (Callon & Law, 1995). This concept enables us to describe the relations between landlords and tenants as well as between humans and nonhumans. These relations constitute the collectif energy behaviour. We aim to test the notion of collectif as an alternative analysis of the heterogeneous and relational nature of a household s energy behaviour, and to suggest a method to builders and designers for implementing energy efficient buildings and environmental policies. By doing so, we will discuss energy behaviour as an emerging relational effect. A household s daily energy behaviour involves a web of processes and interactions, as well as the decisions and functions of several entities. Our focus lies on the relations between social, material and semiotic entities. Thus, the notion of collectif implies analytical symmetry between humans and nonhumans. We are interested in how relations and differences are established and come to matter in people s energy consumption. At the same time, a household s energy behaviour is shaped by different material and socioeconomic objectives. These objectives often conflict in terms of economic resources, political priorities, habits, aesthetics and technical potentials. As Skill (2008: 265) notes, everyday life is complex and different ambitions may clash when the weaving is enacted in practice. In this paper, we will discuss how relations among humans, such as builders, landlords, users, and nonhumans, such as white goods, meters, climate and so forth, co-perform energy behaviour in the setting of a residential building. The building we focus on is Colonia, the new student dorm at Linköping University. These relationships affect and standardize ways of construction as well as patterns of consumption. We intend to reconstruct householders everyday experiences regarding energy use as well as the views and intentions of builders and landlords regarding environmental goals and policies through their narrations. We have identified two fields of interest: 1 1. Builders and landlords articulations. How are goals and guidelines regarding sustainable energy systems formed and articulated? How do environmental goals shape the construction process and the production of behavioral patterns of energy use? How do experts and builders interact with tenants and the built environment? 2. Households and tenants views on their everyday practices and lifestyles. How do householders perceive their own energy consumption? What kind of information channels shape householders choices in relation to energy issues? How do households communicate with builders and landlords? Energy behaviour as a collectif Our understanding of energy use patterns often rests upon traditional, one-dimensional economic approaches or behavioural modes which assume that rising energy prices lead to lower demand and that relevant technological innovations will become established when they become cheap enough to compete with existing technologies (Aune, 2007: 5457). Unfortunately, these approaches have proved of limited value in explaining or influencing the energy behaviour of the actors involved (Woolsey-Biggart & Lutzenhiser, 2007: 1071). Moreover, energy-saving actions are often seen as the consequences of informed action or economic considerations on the part of individual decision-makers. Aune (2007: 5458) argues that private energy use should not be understood as solely the product of economic considerations, adequate information or the existence of technologies. Guy and Shove (2000) maintain that it is also necessary to understand the social and cultural arrangements within which these decisions are made. In addition, Shove (1999: 1107) highlights the social and institutional context in which decisions concerning the acceptance of innovations and sustainable energy solutions are made. Following Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars such as Callon and Bijker, Shove emphasizes that decisions concerning the implementation of energy efficiency measures or individuals energy use are made in sociotechnical entanglements. Practitioners identify and make energy-related decisions within different sets of relations. However and according to Shove (ibid. 1109), what qualifies as a reliable, cost effective, worthwhile energy-saving measure in one socio-cultural domain might count for nothing in another. We argue that energy efficiency is affected both by socioeconomic or behavioural preconditions and by the relations of social actors with material and semiotic entities woven into the built environment. The built environment is poorly represented in social sciences, despite its obvious environmental and ecological significance (Woolsey-Biggart & Lutzenhiser, 2007: 1073). Within this framework, energy use is situated in sociomaterial practices that involve knowledge, lifestyles, institutions, semantics, artefacts and methods (Guy & Shove, 2000). Thus, we are to deconstruct dominant discourses that partially focus on either behavioural or economic/market aspects of energy use. Both the economic and the behavioural views fail to capture the complexity of energy-related decision-making (ibid. 64.). We argue that both social and technological entities as well as economic, policy, ideological, lifestyle, gender, and age dimensions are embedded in the energy behaviour of households. We treat energy behaviour as a co-performance of sociomaterial practices and experiences consisting of actors and relations that is, social actors, symbols, architectures and artefacts as well as different organizational arrangements (cf. Galis, 2006: 33). To put a name on this kind of co-performance, we employ the notion of collectif. 2 The concept of a collectif is inspired by the work of Michel Callon and John Law (1995). They used the notion of collectif to delve into joint associations of human and non-human actors in sociotechnical processes. A collectif describes all entities and relations that form sociomaterial practices. The form, content and properties of a collectif are not fixed but develop and change in the course of interaction (Callon & Law, 1997: 171). In other words, treating energy behaviour as a collectif implies that the analytical framework attributes symmetrical analytical significance to both human and nonhuman actors when it comes to energy use and household behaviour. This approach allows social scientists to talk about technologies, and technologies likewise become entitled to talk about humans (Berker, 2006: 65). As we will show in the empirical part of the paper, technologies and the design of the built environment often talks about (ascribes) human behaviour. All entities are created equal within the collectif; what differentiate them are redistributions of performative agency (Callon & Law, 1995; see also Galis, 2006: 33). Human and nonhuman agency depends on the entity s role within the collectif, that is, agency can be continuously transferred from one entity to another (Pickering, 1995: 15). By adopting this approach, energy behaviour constitutes an emerging property of the collectif, that is, the relations between social and material semiotic actors. In this context, energy behaviour does not constitute a pure human or nonhuman phenomenon but is a relational effect enacted by the interaction of the heterogeneous parts of which it consists (cf. Callon & Law, 1995: 485). While humans are endowed with logic, choice and intentions, performative agency would not be possible was it not for the existence of material and semiotic surroundings. Agency in this context occurs as a co-performance between the material, the semiotic and the human (Pickering, 1995: 17). Things and humans do not act, but there are relations, negotiations, relations and effects between human and nonhuman entities (Callon & Law, 1995: 485). We will show how perceptions and choices articulated by tenants are produced together with technical goals or solutions and the means of implementing them (information, designs, and incentives, policies etc), described by builders and landlords. The design and implementation of energy efficient buildings cannot be detached from the material environment or reduced to social interactions. Energy behaviour implies exchanges of agency between human and nonhuman entities. Setting aside considerations of intentionality, we treat buildings and artefacts as agentic powers, not reducible to or explained away by human action (Gieryn, 2002: 43). Being energy-saving is not only a matter of economic or ideological incentives but also depends on the existence (or non-existence) of a collectif of relations among social factors (such as gender and age) and technological factors (such as light-timers and towel-warmers). These relations enact and are enacted by specific lifestyles, such as being ecologically aware (or not), playing videogames or having a cosy indoor atmosphere. For example, Wilhite et al. s (1996) comparison of the energy behaviour of Japanese and Norwegian households showed that energy sources and lighting methods can have different social symbolisms such as socially appropriate indoor climate, sad house versus happy house, cosiness versus social failure (p. 798). In these cases, technology becomes the mediator of social behaviour or status, that is, nonhuman attribute humans with performative agency ( sad or successful ). The notion of hybrid collectif is not restricted to the description of the modalities of delegation of agency. The household s energy behaviour is part of everyday life, where it is more important to reach specific goals than to be conscious of energy use. Much of our knowledge regarding energy is enacted by individuals own experiences and perceptions. These kinds of experiences/perceptions occur in most ordinary situations. Consequently, what 3 is needed is a method to identify relations between humans and nonhumans within the collectif, and to describe householders daily experiences as they are enacted through different practices, realities and sociomaterial configurations. Method ANT constitutes a method to learn from actors without imposing on them an a priori definition of their perception of the world (Latour, 1999: 20). Accordingly, the central methodological prescription of this investigation is to discuss narrations of sociomaterial relations that contribute to the construction of efficient buildings, the application of environmental solutions, and the production of ecological awareness, habits and lifestyles, as articulated by relevant informants (actors). This approach implies another way of being faithful to the insights of ANT: actors know what they do and we have to learn from them not only what they do, but how and why they do it (ibid. 18). To do this, we applied ANT s methodological tenets, that is, we followed the actors narrations, declarations and reflections on their own lifestyles and practices. Methodologically this implies that we identified relevant actors and conducted a number of interviews in an attempt to describe their understandings, frames, contexts, theories, metaphysics and ontologies regarding energy behaviour (cf. Latour, 2005: 147). Although we recognize that ethnographic observation is one of the most essential methods for providing deep understanding of various practices, we chose to base our investigation solely on in-depth interviews. There are two reasons for this choice: first, we were not granted access to the student dorms we intended to study and few students showed interest in participating in the study. The students did not react positively to the idea of having two researchers in their flats/dorms observing their interactions with the household. They considered our presence intrusive and unnecessary. As Taylor and Bogdan (1998: 90) note, in-depth interviewing becomes indispensable when social researchers cannot gain access to a particular type of research setting. Secondly, in-depth interviewing is the paramount research environment since it provides the researcher with immediate access to witnesses of a sociotechnical process by asking and watching reactions, restating questions, following up details or pursuing significant points raised during the interview (Undheim, 2000: 3; see also Fontana and Frey, 2005: 698; Taylor and Bogdan, 1998: 90). We conducted a number of in-depth interviews with informants representing key components of the collectif s energy behaviour, including landlords, architects, consultants and tenants. The selection of informants was based on two criteria. First, informants should have solid experience of energy issues and the construction of Colonia (builders/landlords). Secondly, informants should be able to shed light on energy issues and living in Colonia (tenants). This selection of informants allowed us to remain true to our effort to approach energy behaviour as a collectif, that is, to study the heterogeneous and relational nature of energy consumption choices articulated by relevant actors. The choice of informants accesses parts of the collectif s energy behaviour, but the lack of participant observation means that we could not integrate materiality in our analysis. This constitutes a serious methodological constraint. While it is relatively easy to theorize and indicate beforehand the significance of materiality in a sociological analysis, it is extremely difficult to employ analytical language that speaks on behalf of nonhumans. The language of social scientists tends to use dualisms (such as subject/object) and treats people as special, as the only entities that act, choose, decide, speak or vote (Callon & Law, 1995: 489). We have to admit that our situated ability to describe the 4 world is constrained by our humanness and our everyday conceptions of the world (cf. Galis, 2006). In this paper, the functions and qualities of technological artefacts are captured and described in the narrations of our informants. Our investigation called for a flexible agenda rather than a narrow questionnaire with leading questions. Thus, we conducted semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. In order to highlight and analyze narrations, competences, estimations and goals regarding a residential project as well as everyday practices and perceptions concerning energy consumption, we formulated questions that would allow our informants to provide extensive information regarding the construction of Colonia and their everyday experiences. Moreover, several of our questions focused on the informants interactions with materiality. For example, we asked both landlords and architects to describe what concrete measures they implemented in Colonia to reduce energy consumption. With tenants, we discussed their everyday routines regarding lighting, laundry, and dishwashers. A number of tenants attempted to show us how and why they did things in certain ways, for example, preventing overheating by covering windows or adjusting the automatic ventilation under the windows. Their responses helped us to capture both discursive aspects of the collectif energy behaviour as well as relations with the material world. We carried out ten interviews, three with builders/landlords and seven with tenants. The selection of informants was based on our approach to energy behaviour as a collectif of heterogeneous actors. Our point of departure was Byggvesta s 1 website, which stresses the company s focus on and cooperation with users regarding environmental issues and the management of their buildings, and its investment in innovative energy efficient solutions. Byggvesta s official website at summarizes all the relevant actors in the collectif, both human and non-human: Byggvesta, users, managers, buildings, environmental issues, efficient solutions and so forth. We located our informants by identifying important components of the collectif, starting with Byggvesta. We initiated the investigation by interviewing engineer Marcus Svensson, head of Byggvesta s business development department. He recommended other potential informants, such as an architect from the Stockholm-based White Architects and a construction consultant from WSP Sweden AB. Through Svensson, we also contacted Colonia s supervisor (see next section) who recommended relevant informants (student-tenants). Each interview was approximately one hour long and was conducted face-to-face. We chose to interview seven students: three males who lived in single flats (an economics student and two engineering students), and four females (an economics student who lives in a collective, an engineering student who lives on her own, and two speech therapy students, one of them living in a commune and the other living on her own). We aimed to have a gender-balanced sample of students in different areas (engineering, social and medical sciences), with different ages (ranging from 20 to 30 years old), and different living status (both single and shared flats). All interviewers are influenced not only by their own interpretations but also by the reflections and descriptions of the informants. An interview is a social situation that inherently implies an exchange between the interviewer and the informant (Maxwell, 2002: 54). Thus, the analysis of the empirical material constitutes a synthesis of our reflections and the descriptions of our informants, interwoven into our theoretical understanding of energy 1 Byggvesta is a private Swedish real estate company. It was founded in 1951 and is owned by Stellar Holdings an American private real estate investment and development firm headquartered in Seattle. Byggvesta owns 23% of downtown Linköping. 5 behaviour. The limited number of interviews reduces the generalizability of the findings, but this study is exploratory and it is hoped that it will pro
Related Search
Similar documents
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!