söndag 4 mars 2018

Using digital interventions to change energy-related behaviors (application)

We handed in a research grant application to The Swedish Council for Sustainable Development's (Formas) half a year ago called "A systematic review the scientific literature on digital interventions for more sustainable food consumption behaviours". We got the money we applied for and we recently started to work on the project. "We" here refers to Björn Hedin (project leader), Cecilia Katzeff, Daniel Pargman and Elina Eriksson.

As it is, The Swedish Council for Sustainable Development's (Formas) had a new call for "Syntheses and research projects for sustainable spatial planning: Syntheses of knowledge status and knowledge gaps":

What do we currently know and what do we still need to know to achieve a sustainable society? Formas invites applications for syntheses that examine knowledge status and knowledge gaps within subject areas relevant to sustainable spatial planning through multi- or interdisciplinary collaborations. In the assessment of applications for syntheses projects a major emphasis will be placed on the methodology used.
The synthesis topic investigated must contribute to one or more of the Agenda 2030 goals (http://www.globalgoals.org/) [The UN Sustainable Development Goals]. It is advantageous if the project also contributes to one or more of the Swedish environmental goals or national cultural environment targets, goals for architecture, structural planning and design, goals for housing, construction, transport policy, infrastructure, spatial planning and safety, crime prevention efforts, social goals and equality goals. The application must state which goal(s) are addressed and how the project contributes to each goal.

We reused parts of our previous, food-related application (especially relating to the planned/proposed methodology), and we (again Björn, Cecilia, me and Elina) wrote a new application geared towards energy use in households called "A systematic review of scientific literature on digital behavior change interventions for more sustainable energy behavior". Our chances ought to be pretty good since we've already done this once and managed to get the money we applied for and since we as a team objectively know more about energy than we knew about food when we submitted our previous applied (especially Cecilia has a solid background having worked in many energy-related research projects and having been the research director for Energy Design at RISE Interactive from 2009 to 2016).

Here's the English-language summary of our application:

This synthesis aims at investigating the current state of research regarding digital behavior change interventions aiming to affect households' direct energy use in a more sustainable direction. The area is very relevant since digital behavior change interventions have grown very rapidly in recent years, but there has not yet been a systematic review of this kind in the energy field. The results will be useful for decision makers, interaction and intervention designers as well as for practitioners in companies, energy companies, housing companies, government agencies and other public actors, with an interest in affecting energy consumers in a more sustainable direction. We will investigate interventions directed against individuals and households, which may target 1) reduced energy consumption through changed habits, 2) reduced energy consumption through one-off activities/investments, 3) private energy production and 4) choice of energy consumption time (in relation to “smart grids”). We will investigate the energy and sustainability goals that the relevant studies have aimed at, what behavior change techniques that have been used, what digital platform has been used, and the extent to which it has achieved set goals. Furthermore, our goal is to identify areas where there is a knowledge gap, and based on the synthesis recommend what measures can be taken to turn households to more sustainable energy use.

Here's the research question underlying the project:

What is the status of current scientific knowledge of digital behavior change interventions for more sustainable energy practices for households and individuals? In order to answer this question, we further ask:
1. What are the most significant and reliable results in this field (that should be better disseminated and built upon in future work)?
2. What are the most significant and urgent knowledge gaps in this field?

Our project partners are (again) The Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) and The Swedish environment Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) but The Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) was less relevant for this application and has been replaced by Mälardalen Energy Agency [Energikontoret i Mälardalen], a regional energy agency with commitments in four Swedish counties(Södermanland, Västmanland, Uppsala and Gotland).

During 2018 we are working on the food-related synthesis project. If we get the money we just applied for, we will work on on the just-submitted energy-related synthesis project during 2019 but we have to wait until September until we know if our application was granted or not.

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