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UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering

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Participatory research

We are increasingly involved in participatory research.

All of our Building Performance Evaluation projects involve interaction between researchers, architects, engineers, facility managers and users.

Researchers across disciplines have been converging on a set of methodological principles to promote effective policy in relevant complex systems, involving:

  • a systems approach;
  • transdisciplinarity (integrating knowledge for decision-making across policy, community and the academic literature);
  • community participation in the characterisation of problems and developing solutions; and
  • social justice and environmental sustainability goals.

System dynamics

System dynamics (SD) modelling that supports group learning has the potential to meet the principles described above.

SD modelling is recognised as a powerful tool for improving democratic decision-making at a range of geographical scales. Using participatory processes to build a shared understanding of complex systems and explore the future effects of specific policies is crucial.

HEW project

In the HEW project, we used stakeholder interviews and published research to develop collaborative causal maps of the housing, energy and wellbeing system.

The maps form the basis for the development of a simulation model to explore the dynamic behaviour of the system. Policy options will then be designed and the simulation model can be used to simulate these options.

The collaborative mapping and simulation process is designed so that stakeholders will have a greater influence on decisions about housing.

However, the mapping and simulation cannot assist with judgements about which policy is preferable. A formal policy assessment process using Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can, therefore, have added value in supporting decision-making.