Sociological study of the acceptance of Demand Response in office buildings.


“Smart grids” emerged as a concept of network that might be capable of responding to energy challenges such as constant increase in consumption, risks of high peaks of demand, or the development of renewable energies with intermittent production. Facing these challenges requires electricity system able to adapting to complex balance between production and consumption.
Drawing on information and communication technologies (ICT), Smart Grids are based on the principle of real-time management of the network through the exchange of data between consumers and providers. The focus is on the “Demand Response”: managing the network by the demand rather than on production capacities while placing greater reliance on storage.
The REFLEXE project, commissioned by the French Environment and Energy Agency (Ademe), comprises several firms (Veolia, Alstom, Sagemcom), an engineering school (Supelec) and a public research institute (CEA INES) working in the fields of energy, environment and ICT. REFLEXE consists of an experimental project using large-scale smart grids in South-east of France. VERI (Veolia Recherche et Innovation) has tested the technical and social feasibility of the concept of “demand response” on air conditioning and heating in offices of two buildings.
This «demand-response» mechanism supposes that, sometimes, the thermal comfort level of the building users may change. In this context, the issue to be addressed to the sociologists was to evaluate what kind of flexibility was considered to be acceptable or not by the office workers.
This work, based on both technical and sociological assumptions, involved collaboration between engineers in the field of energy and researchers in humanities to test “demand responses” in office buildings and to collect and analyze the perceptions of the workers about effects and purposes of this innovation.
On one side, a sample of people was asked about how they perceived the practice of the demand response. Scenarios underpinning the innovation were explained to these individuals to help them make the connection between the demand response being introduced in their workplace and broader issues concerning the Electricity System while employees had the opportunity to participate in the tests. The criteria mobilized by the individuals to subscribe or reject this innovation were highlighted and analyzed.
On the other side, the feeling and the acceptance of changes in the thermal comfort were evaluated during the testing phases.
For this seminar we propose to present the results of these two complementary approaches.

KEY WORDS: Experiment; Demand Response; Smart Grids; Acceptance; Perception of comfort.

Energy efficiency in enterprises: what feelings from employees?

Amélie COULBAUT-LAZZARINI (University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin en Yvelines)
Thibault DANTEUR (University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin en Yvelines)

With national and European objectives towards energy transition, firms implement internal and external policies to reduce their energy footprint (Laperche & Lefebvre, 2012). So, whatever is the motivation to implement the policy, either cost reduction inside the firm or external stance aiming to reinforce the corporate social responsibility image (Pluchart, 2013), reduction of energy consumption is more and more central for enterprises. But do employees also take care of it?
Based on a field work led for years in two collaborative research projects (Coulbaut-Lazzarini & Némoz, 2013), we aim to look for actors perceptions about efforts towards energy consumption reduction and development of more renewable energy solutions. These two projects are quite different, but have common industrial actors. Their objectives are, for the first one, to reduce energy consumption in tertiary buildings, and for the other, to develop an intelligent charging solution allowing to develop employees electric mobility.
These two projects (EPIT 2.0 and ECO2CHARGE) are funded by various institutional partners, at a local or national level. They integrate both internal objectives (energy efficiency, help for alternative mobility…) and external ones (posting of environmental preoccupation, corporate social responsibility, commercialization of a charging system…). We collected data from stakeholders involved in these projects and from final users (Gutman & Glazer, 2009; Morel-Brochet & Ortar, 2014) of these projects. So we can analyze their perception (Knox, 1987), as employees of the companies or as citizens or simple users facing constraints and having particular motivations (Maresca & Dujin, 2014). It is then interesting to see if their analysis of their companies policies are similar or opposite, according to what position they adopt. Can we then distinguish two really different points of view? Does it allow a more objective perception or not? Can we observe dissensions or tensions between employees or citizens speeches? We will question these aspects in our communication, and we will analyze it from an empirical-deductive approach that will let the most possible place for field data studied from qualitative and quantitative methods.

KEY WORDS: sociology, energy, building, mobility, professional environment.

Des déplacements contraints par l’activité professionnelle. Le cas des professionnels mobiles.


Les professionnels mobiles sont des actifs qui, pour exercer leur métier doivent se déplacer de façon autonome en dehors de leurs entreprises ou structures d’appartenance pour se rendre chez un « client » sur un site particulier où leur compétence et leur intervention est requise.
Les professionnels mobiles se distinguent d’une part des professionnels du transport dont le cœur de métier est la production de déplacement de personnes ou de biens et d’autre part de l’ensemble des actifs qui réalisent de simples trajets domicile – travail.
Les professionnels mobiles représentent environ un quart des actifs en France, une population qui a connu une croissance rapide même si elle semble stagner ces dernières années.
De statuts variables (indépendants, salariés, commerciaux, cadres, ingénieurs, techniciens, ouvriers) ils sont engagés dans une grande diversité de situations de travail qui vont des prestations de service, la vente, les soins à la personne, en passant par la maintenance, le dépannage, la réparation à l’installation et la réalisation de travaux.
Ils travaillent pour des services aux entreprises industrielles, commerciales et tertiaires, pour des services aux bailleurs et sociétés de gestion d’immeubles résidentiels, pour des services aux particuliers que ce soit dans l’habitat, ou que ce soit dans des services à la personne.
Sur la base de plusieurs enquêtes par entretiens et observations, cette communication vise à montrer que pour les professionnels mobiles l’activité de déplacement est certes une activité indispensable à l’exercice de leur métier, mais reste une activité secondaire par rapport à leur métier, souvent dévalorisée voire niée et qui, à ce titre est particulièrement difficile à atteindre par des appels à la sobriété énergétique.
En effet les professionnels mobiles rencontrent au cours de leurs déplacements de multiples aléas de la circulation (encombrements, difficultés de stationnements, etc.). Ces aléas peuvent considérablement perturber les conditions de leur activité professionnelle principale. Ils mettent alors en place diverses stratégies pour minimiser la portée de ces aléas dûs aux déplacements. Mais dans leur activité professionnelle principale ils rencontrent également des aléas consommatrices de temps. Ils ont alors tendance à en reporter la gestion sur l’activité secondaire non valorisée, le déplacement, ou se cumulent par conséquence un nombre considérable de contraintes.

MOTS CLÉS : Professionnel mobile, travail, déplacement professionnel, activité secondaire, aléas de la circulation.

The key role of occupants of an energy efficient office building.

Delphine LABBOUZ-HENRY (University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre-La Défense ; Elithis Group)

Today, energy conservation in buildings is one of the most accurate ways to achieve a more sustainable society. Companies are responding to pressures to reduce the environmental impact of their activities.
Technological advances are necessary but not sufficient. It is also needed to accompanying changes of lifestyle and behaviors through a better understanding of their psychosocial and organizational antecedents.
Our study aims to determine which factors influence environmentally friendly behaviors at work, in a high energy efficient building. We want to examine the perceptions of the occupants, their feelings and experience in the building, in order to improve their comfort and quality of life, and to reduce energy consumption.
Through the thematic analysis of the contents of 22 semi-guided interviews, we elaborate a survey proposed to 116 employees. About 150 items deal with the following subjects: perceived quality of the workplace (visual, thermal and acoustic comfort, etc.), appropriation and workplace attachment, perception of energy, feeling of control, social norms, environmental attitudes, pro-environmental behaviors at home and in work settings, perceptions of the company and feeling of organizational justice.
The qualitative and quantitative results will be exposed and discussed. In summary, interviewees declare that technologies make the appropriation of the building more complex and difficult. They feel that they have little room for maneuver and little personal control on energy consumption, due to the important level of automation. The feeling of control strongly impact employees’ satisfaction and well-being at work.
Users have expressed their need of coherence, at all levels, between:
- private and professional areas;
- employees’ behaviors and superiors’ ones, in all the fields of sustainable development (and not only energy);
- users’ expected behaviors and their real room for actions;
- energy saving objectives and comfort.Furthermore, results show that certain dimensions explicate pro-environmental behaviors at work, for example perceived quality of the workplace, feeling of control and organizational justice, social norms, pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors at home.
These results underline the complementary role of personal predispositions and organizational context. Interventions aiming at energy saving in office buildings have to undertake programs of actions dealing with these two fields.
Finally, the use of new technologies lead to the necessity to provide information about the building’s proper functioning and a real accompanying when occupants enter in the premises.

KEY WORDS: office building, pro-environmental behaviors, energy saving, psychosocial audit, change management.

Coriolis in use: an efficient building in question.

Hélène SUBRÉMON (École des Ponts ParisTech/LATTS)

« In lab of mathematics, it’s well known : a cup of coffee, a theorem. No coffee, no theorem. Not having a microwave, it is binding and it doesn’t sound like this is the issue here! »
New construction is now subject to strict regulations, particularly focused on thermal quality (Debizet, 2012). These regulations have produced a race among labels attesting the quality of the project in regards of energy and ecology aspects. Therefore these labels become both modes of certification and a way for the industry sector to develop, communicate, promote buildings, highlighting their technical performance and its architectural prowess.
This proliferation of new labels ans standards and this new-born economy of technical norms obviously interrogate the field of social sciences in terms of what prevail to ensure better compliance with the amount of technical requirements. They also interrogate their performativity in relation to end-users. What kind of performance is it about? actual or estimated? What endurance can we lend to a building labeled for its design, but not for its maintenance?
The frame of the sociology of usages has been widely mobilized to understand the terms of appropriation of space (Raymond and Haumont, 1966). It is now refreshed, as a result of the challenges of energy transition (Renauld, 2013; Flamand and Roudil, 2013). Other works (Zelem and Beslay, 2014; Brisepierre, 2013) mobilize socio-technical and organizational professional approaches and question the injunction of technical performance in the light of the logic of social practices.
To contribute to these reflections, we have chosen as a field of inquiry a building “Coriolis”. This building was delivered in 2012. It is located in “la Cité Descartes”, in Champs-sur-Marne (Paris Suburb). It hosts laboratories of l’Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, a Design school, and classrooms. Designed by Atelier Roche, it has been labelled Plus Energy Building. The building claims to meet the highest standards.
In parallel, we have investigated the building using ethnographic approches. This fieldwork offers a different point of view: appropriation of the building is not a given but has to be planned; this appropriation would be significantly improved by developing skills both of its occupants and its maintenance services.

MOTS CLÉS :efficient building, end-users, PlusEnergy, abilities/skills.

Users, key actors of the cube 2020 competition.

Nathalie TIMORES (Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research).

The real consumption of the building site is largely conditioned by the practices and behaviour of users. It’s a complex mixture of representations and habits. Then the objectives of energetic performance is high and all our thoughts concern directly our way of life and our professional skills.
Several leverages are deployed to act on the practices and cultural behaviour : such as having new tools for the measurement of the energetic performance. During 2014 competition we will measure our base of real consumption and will have a feed back of our experiment to improve our actions.
The Ministry is inscribed in a common action which will promote energetic performance which will serve as an example of sustainable development for global performance.
With strong leadership each site in the competition develops partnerships for action ( Initiating training conférences, communicating with each occupant and valorising the positive results.
The objectives are that everyone obtains information that is necessary for action regarding energy consumption, and our positive and encouraging results are recognized and applied to all the services of the Ministry.

KEY WORDS: consumption, measurement, organizational scheme, usage.