Energy interventions improve social cohesion and reduce energy consumption

News - 21 September 2016 - Webredactie TBM

The EU project CIVIS, ‘Cities as drivers of social change’, has revealed that energy interventions can improve social cohesion and reduce energy consumption. The objective of CIVIS is to make people more aware of their energy consumption and encourage them to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. CIVIS also wants to share energy more fairly while improving social cohesion at the same time.

To achieve this, a business model and an ICT support system were developed. Martijn Warnier from TPM and Frances Brazier from the MAS Department are involved in the project. Post-doc Yilin Huang has worked intensively on the project and will be starting as assistant professor in the Systems Engineering research group on 1 October.

Common goal

In the project solar panels were used to generate energy, turning energy users into energy producers. Besides this, a specially developed app provided participants with energy-saving tips. The money saved was invested in the neighbourhood, for example building a playground or improving the street lighting. Martijn Warnier explained, “Our pilot projects conducted in Stockholm and Trentino showed that this approach works. Local residents are not that interested in individually saving a few euros , but they can be motivated to support a common goal. This was especially evident in the pilot held in the rural area of Trentino.”

Citizen participation

To improve active participation in the project, the app was designed in collaboration with the users, but there is still room for improvement. “Research revealed that parents and older children in particular participated enthusiastically, while only 20% of families with young children did,” said Warnier. The final touches are currently being put on an application for a follow-up project to obtain better insight into which energy interventions worked well and which did not, so the best practices can be scaled up.