Lecture: Unveiling homeowners’ behaviour towards energy retrofits: from behavioural and transaction cost perspectives

09 March 2022 16:00 till 17:00 | Add to my calendar

Lecture by Queena Qian, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment and her PhD Shima Ebrahimigharehbaghi
Hosted by the Urban Energy Institute
Date: 9 March
Time: 4-5pm CET
Moderator: Henk Visscher


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The residential sector can contribute substantially to mitigating GHG emissions through large scale energy retrofits. Despite the significant energy saving potential, the retrofit rate in the residential sector in the Netherlands remains very low. Among different sectors, the Dutch owner-occupied housing sector accounted for 57% of the residential stock in 2020. In this subsector, homeowners are entirely responsible for carrying out the energy retrofits. Moreover, the energy retrofit processes are complex and homeowners face issues, such as, finding financial support, reliable information and contractors. The complexities in conducting energy retrofits may hinder homeowners from the continuation of the process and their expected benefits.  Behavioural aspects and transaction cost (TC) factors are among the main influencing factors in the consumers' decision-making processes. Behavioural factors mainly illustrate a range of personal, contextual, and external factors influencing homeowners' decision-making processes. It includes cognitive awareness and biases, attitudes and beliefs, experience, and skills, homeowners' features, socio-demographics, property characteristics, other people's behaviours. The transaction cost (TC) means any hidden cost that affects the decision-making but is not included in the direct physical costs of renovation services and products. Our research indicates the significant importance of these behavioural factors and TC barriers. The main findings include: (1) the lack of energy retrofits tailored to the needs of a particular group of buildings and households, (2) the need to use the right message and the right messenger of the particular household group to promote energy retrofits, (3) the inadequate implementation of behavioural interventions and nudges to promote energy retrofit, and (4) the lack of integrated financial, informational and technical support, especially for homeowners interested in energy retrofits. The purpose of this presentation is to explain in detail the application of the behavioural insights and transaction cost factors on the energy retrofit decision making and renovation processes and the potential misalignments in the current energy policy.

About the Speakers:

Queena K QIAN is an Associate Professor at Department of Management in Built Environment, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. Before this appointment, She was employed as Research Assistant Professor at Building and Real Estate Dept., the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her PhD thesis, entitled “Barriers to Promote Building Energy Efficiency- A Transaction Costs Perspective”, which has been awarded the Faculty’s best thesis award at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2012. Her research has received her international awards: e.g., Delft Technology Fellow (2014), Endeavour Australian Cheung Kong Fellow (2013), Australia, and Fulbright recipient (2010) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley, USA. During her PhD, she has received invitation from Prof. Douglas North, 1993 Nobel Laureate Economist, for six-month research with him on the application of transaction costs theory into sustainable building research at Washington University in St Louis, the USA in 2010. Her research interests are green building promotion, building energy renovation, urban renewal, age-friendly design, governance and incentive schemes, etc., using behavioural science approach and transaction costs theory. Since 2015, she has been the editor of the Journal of Housing and the Built Environment. Since 2018, she has been the Honorary Fellows at The University of Hong Kong Ronald Coase Centre for Property Rights Research (RCCPRR).

Shima Ebrahimigharehbaghi obtained a Master of Science in Engineering and Policy Analysis at Delft University of Technology. After completing her master’s degree, she was eager to continue her research, and to apply her educational background in economics, especially in the field of sustainability. In 2018, she started her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Dr. ir. H.J. Visscher and Dr. Queena K. Qian. In parallel with her PhD, she worked on other projects related to energy efficiency in the building sector and has the privilege to work under the supervision of Prof. L. Itard, Prof. Marja Elsinga, and Dr. Harry van der Heijden. These projects, IEA EBC Annex 70 – Building Energy Epidemiology and Housing 4.0 Energy projects, later led to publications in various journals.

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