Smart Communities: shaping new low carbon community norms and practices

Lead Research Organisation: Kingston University
Department Name: Kingston Business School

Abstract

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Description Smart Communities was a three and a half year - largely demand-side or 'behaviour change' - community energy project (January 2011 to June 2014). The project drew on the principles of action research, and took place in Kingston upon Thames. The main action phase of the project was from May 2011 to May 2013.
1. In broad terms, the Smart Communities findings support the contemporary policy focus on demand-side action, community energy, and energy consumption feedback.
2. At the same time, the project highlights the long term and challenging nature of these strategies, and the implications of this for funding.
3. The findings emphasise: the complexity and household-specific nature of energy know-how (ideas about ways to reduce energy consumption and the know-how to put these ideas into practice); the lack of energy know-how among householders as a key constraint on change; and, practical ways in which more widespread know-how might be developed.
4. With particular reference to the smart meter roll-out, the project highlights a number of ways in which householder engagement with energy consumption feedback can be enhanced and prolonged (in particular, through ongoing communications that prompt action, offer advice and create a 'sense of being part of something').
5. The project also emphasises the benefits of action on energy within a primary school, and the ways in which this prompts engagement with energy in the home.
Exploitation Route All five of the findings listed above should be investigated in a range of contexts and using a range of approaches and methods.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy

URL http://business.kingston.ac.uk/smart-communities
 
Description In the early stages of Smart Communities, the team acted as advisors to the evaluation of DECC's Low Carbon Community Challenge (LCCC); as a result, theoretical ideas that informed Smart Communities also informed the evaluation of the LCCC. The findings from Smart Communities have been used by the Community Energy and Smart Meter teams in DECC, as well as Smart Energy GB. The findings have also been used by third sector and community groups working on energy (such as the Centre for Sustainable Energy). In Kingston upon Thames, the Smart Communities project is now being run by local group, South West London Environment Network, and plans are in place to take the project to new geographical areas. The findings relating to 'energy knowhow' formed the key conceptual and practice citation in the DECC report 'Smart Metering Energy Efficiency Advice Project - Annex 1: Review of Energy Efficiency Advice Best Practice' (3: 2016). The findings relating to behavioural science were reflected in the 'Evidence Check: Smart metering of electricity and gas: Government Response to the Committee's Sixth Report of Session 2016-17 (30 November 2016)', see pp2-3. Michael Harrison at DECC (now BEIS) reported, 'we supported your recommendations'
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Influence in HoC S&T committee evidence check into smart meters (p3 30 November, 2016)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact The provision of smart meters has the potential to reduce carbon emissions (leading to improved environmental sustainability and contributing to effective solutions to societal problems), reduce costs for householders and improve householders' thermal comfort (with positive impacts on their quality of life). As a project that has been mandated by government, this support for the smart meter roll out contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery. I contributed evidence to the HoC S&T committee evidence check on smart meters, and my advice was reflected (unattributed) in 'Evidence Check: Smart metering of electricity and gas: Government Response to the Committee's Sixth Report of Session 2016-17 (30 November 2016)', see pp2-3. Michael Harrison at DECC (now BEIS) reported, 'we supported your recommendations'
URL https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmsctech/846/846.pdf
 
Description Key conceptual and practical citation, relating to 'energy knowhow' in DECC report, 'Smart Metering Energy Efficiency Advice Project - Annex 1: Review of Energy Efficiency Advice Best Practice'
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The provision of meaningful and actionable energy efficiency advice has the potential to reduce carbon emissions (leading to improved environmental sustainability and contributing to effective solutions to societal problems), reduce costs for householders and improve householders' thermal comfort (with positive impacts on their quality of life). As a project that has been mandated by government, this support for the smart meter roll out contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery.
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/587341/Review_of_Energy_Ef...
 
Description Digital Economy Sustainable Society Network+
Amount £1,500,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K003593/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2012 
End 04/2015
 
Description BEHAVE energy conference (Oxford, September 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk sparked lively questions and discussion at the conference, and a number of follow-up enquiries.

The talk generated follow-up enquiries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://behaveconference.com/
 
Description BEIS smart meter Consumer benefits expert workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The aim of the workshop, whose outputs will be used internally, is to guide BEIS' evidence collection and review around consumer engagement and benefits, to help us ultimately understand better how the programme is working in this area. We have identified two workshop objectives:

1. To identify the most important areas of uncertainty and novelty over how consumers will be engaged (e.g. by energy suppliers) and then use smart meters to get benefits, for the remainder of the roll-out.
2. To develop a set of prioritised evaluation questions for further research and analysis by BEIS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description DECC Smart meter installation energy advice project stakeholder workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In the context of a DECC project on giving vulnerable householders energy saving advice when they have their smart meter installed, I presented conceptual and practical insights relating to 'energy know how'. These insights were derived from a Smart Communities paper that is also recorded here. These ideas formed the main conceptual contribution to the ensuing project (conducted by Ipsos MORI). This impact is also recorded here.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description DECC smart meter team expert advisory meeting (December 2013) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact My comments sparked discussion and questions.

This event consolidated relationships with the DECC smart meter team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description European Energy and Society conference (Krakow, June 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 50 people attended this event, which sparked questions and emails

We were asked for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.energyandsociety.confer.uj.edu.pl/en
 
Description Expert advisor to Smart Energy GB on public engagement for the smart meter roll out (ongoing) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact At these meetings (3), my comments have been well-received, and have prompted engagement and discussion among other attendees.

My comments have reinforced Smart Energy GB's emphasis on working through local and community partners, and have urged greater emphasis on behaviour change (as opposed to just acceptance of smart meters).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://www.smartenergygb.org/
 
Description Meeting with Unilever 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting with Dr Hilde Hendrick, senior researcher with Unilever.

A discussion of the findings of the CHARM Home Energy Study and the Smart Communities and its implications for 1/ Unilever product development, 2/ Uniliver sustainable behaviour campaigns and 3/ future Unilever research

We were asked to contribute to the design of a questionnaire for further research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Meetings with British Gas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A series of meeting to discuss energy consumption feedback platforms (on the basis of findings from CHARM and Smart Communities) with a view to future collaboration in research and practice.

We have now advised British gas on their Smart Energy report and have submitted an associated research proposal to Horizon 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description Presentation to Department of Energy and Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion. Slides circulated afterwards

We were asked for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Presentation to Global Action Plan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented to: Global Action Plan, London, UK, 6 October 2011.

We were asked to participate in a future event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Smart Communities 'Home Energy Action Visits' (12) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The home visits prompted extremely high levels of engagement with energy among the recipients. The recipients asked lots of questions.

The home visits were very successful in helping householders to change their energy consuming behaviours.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
URL http://business.kingston.ac.uk/smart-communities
 
Description Smart Communities community workshops (7) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The workshops were very well attended, sparked considerable engagement with energy issues, proved very helpful in sharing knowledge and know-how about energy consumption reduction.

1. The Smart Communities workshop programme was very important in helping local residents to reduce their energy consumption. 2. The co-creation workshops helped to form new social groups in the local area. 3. The final 'what next?' workshop helped to create a legacy for the project with local group, South West london Environment Network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013
URL http://business.kingston.ac.uk/smart-communities
 
Description Smart Communities conference (London, June 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The event itself was very well attended by people from practitioner and policy domain, including by policy makers from the DECC Community Energy and Smart Meter teams. The event was very stimulating, prompting engaged and prolonged discussion. The event also offered the opportunity for networking.

The event consolidated and deepened relationships with DECC's Community Energy and Smart Meter teams. In particular, DECC's Head of Community Energy (Fiona Booth) responded that the event would inform her thinking in a number of areas (eg understanding participation, suburban community energy, women and energy) and confirmed her thinking in lots of other areas. The event and report has also been described as 'a model for others to follow' within the ESRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://business.kingston.ac.uk/smart-communities
 
Description Smart Communities programme of school activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This programme created high levels of engagement with energy among school children and school staff, and prompted greater engagement with energy in the home of the school chil;dren and staff.

This work has sparked interest in working with schools among practitioners and in the DECC Community Energy team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013
URL http://business.kingston.ac.uk/smart-communities