Practices

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Climate and cultural differences in energy use in domestic buildings

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Photo by: Johan Fowelin

Within the CULTURAL-E project cultural and climatic considerations are incorporated into the Plus Energy Building (PEB) designs, which are being implemented in residential demo buildings located in four European climatic areas. As a means of contributing to enhancing the buildings’ pre and post occupancy developments, a study has been conducted, which aims at upgrading PEB’s energy performance predictions which are guided by users' everyday practices.

 

A literature review on cultural and climatic related aspects of domestic energy demand is the basis for an understanding of household practices in the context of the development of user-involved smart energy technologies. It addresses the gap between building design expectations and the reality of household energy performance. This gap exists both as a result of the ways in which energy efficiency is viewed as a technical activity and a particular understanding of energy demand; which is configured primarily by daily practices, rather than by the provision of energy related information.

 

The research focused on combining the findings from a social practice perspective with the statistical data variables which will populate an online tool -the 2CAP Energy Atlas- in the form of an interactive European map on which cultural, climatic and policy peculiarities related to the building sector will be visualized. The concept for the Atlas intends to answer: How can the Atlas tool be conceptualised to support the PEB design process? How can user energy behaviour be integrated into an Atlas?

 

The main purpose of the Atlas is to advise building designers, as principal target users, by: (i) contributing to the understanding of current and future energy demand scenarios at household and building level; (ii) indicating conditions where particular technology approaches might best be used or avoided, supporting the dimensioning of RES and storage systems; (iii) informing operability and interface design of the BMS; and (iv) characterising the comfort level standards in consideration of cultural and climatic factors.

 

The results bring new ways of understanding the nature of building energy performance as it relates to social and cultural life; it states that there is a need to adopt frames such as social practices to help explain and accommodate the broader social and cultural parameters that structure energy demand. In order to drive the widespread uptake of PEB, it is fundamental to consider not only the adoption of smart user-centred technologies, but also the temporal and spatial variations in energy demand at household level, across climate zones, and cultures.

 

To read the results of the study please visit the project website and sign up to our bi-annual newsletter to stay up-to-date on positive energy buildings.