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Title: Practices and technological change : the unintended consequences of low energy dwelling design
Author: Foulds, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2013
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There is an urgent need to reduce domestic energy consumption, particularly due to climate change. Domestic energy policies and research have been dominated by the assumption that technological provision will linearly save energy. Conventional attempts to move away from this approach have not gone far enough, tending to still assume that technological usage is a linear outcome of an individual’s rational decision-making. This thesis takes a significantly different approach by drawing on social practice theory and focusing on how everyday life is performed. Specifically, a Passivhaus housing development is adopted as a case study in investigating the everyday consequences of advancing dwelling design. Passivhaus is a German energy efficiency building standard, employing very different technologies relative to conventional UK housing. Specific attention is given to how unfamiliar technologies influence domestic practices more generally, as well as appliance-using practices and designing and constructing practices more specifically. This thesis has significant empirical, methodological and theoretical contributions. Empirically, everyday examples illustrate the unintended consequences of new technologies, providing insight on how such technologies could change practices in the future. Methodologically, by treating quantitative consumption-related data (e.g. building monitoring, appliance ownership, construction data) as by-products of performing practices, an innovative mixed methods approach provides unique insights on everyday practices. Theoretically, the potential usefulness of a practices approach is emphasised; in particular, in developing a detailed and contextual understanding of how everyday life is constructed and how it is open to change (often in unexpected ways). This thesis reiterates that research and policy should focus on practices, rather than technological performance or what individuals think about technologies. It concludes by: discussing a re-framing of policy expectations; outlining how energy saving interventions could target domestic practices and its influencing elements; and providing a series of new research ideas that have been generated by this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available