UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


The role of crowd-sourced energy performance feedback in low-energy building design

The European Performance of Buildings Directive and the United Kingdom Climate Change Act have resulted in a range of measures aimed at lowering building energy consumption.

This framework uses regulatory, market based and other levers to encourage reductions in consumption and associated carbon emissions. Parallel to this is a set of drivers generated by social, economic and broader professional responsibilities. These include reputational pressures, personal and organisation ambitions, economic risks and societal pressures. 

This study used a mixed methodology to define this combination of influences as the ‘contextual pressures’. An initial literature review was combined with a phase of empirical research through participant observation in the early stage development of the CarbonBuzz platform to add practitioner insight to the framework. 

The role that energy information feedback currently plays in design, construction and management practice was then investigated. Three data collection and analysis phases were carried out: an industry-wide web-based survey; secondary energy consumption data from the CarbonBuzz platform and semi-structured interviews aimed at understanding which pressures have greatest impact on actors’ practice.

A framework is proposed for the future role that crowd sourced energy information feedback could play in design, construction and management practice. The final phase synthesises the quantitative and qualitative data to identify what a future crowd sourced data platform must offer to meet the aspirations and motivations of actors working within the contextual pressures and the macro-aim of lower carbon emissions. This concludes with suggested alterations required to the contextual pressures to facilitate this. Recommendations are made for adjustments to the framework to increase participation in building evaluation targeted at the specifics of the energy gap and the motivations of industrial actors.

Finally, further work is identified to facilitate and evaluate any future changes to the contextual pressures.