Adopting of the follow-up energy consumption and its efficiency conditions on inhabitants practices.

Gaëtan BRISEPIERRE (Freelance sociologist/GBS)

Public authorities decided the generalization in every french home the use of communicating meters for electricity and gas before 2020. These investments will be paid back by a tax added to energy bill and are very often justified by the alleged ability of the meters to produce energy savings. In other words they rely on the hypothesis according to which the consumer information improvement through the follow-up will incite him to adopt thriftier behavior.
This communication aims at denying this claim by showing that information is efficient only as part of a more global plan of accompaniment to change. It relies on four fields surveys made with the actors of energy mastering sensibilisation campaign including the concept of individualised and up to date energy consumption follow up. First, system put by social lessors following the moving in a new LCB (low consumption building) or the putting up consumption TV displaying system ; second the help of Familles à Energie Positive in two french districts.
On one hand we will show that information doesn’t exist in itself, it is circulated through systems which must be fully understood by actors. The interest show by the dwellers for consumption data remains very restricted . This lack of interest is partly a result of starting in disheartening system. These data look like a possible condition of new sensibilisation system brought forward by local powers. They are both the financing medium of these campaign and also the establishment of new relations with the people concerned. Moreover, the adding up of these data allow to foresee new action possibilities of energy mastering for the housing project or an area.
On the other hand, we will show that the consumption following up services can only end up in behavior changes lasting on condition only they are part of three levers system : cognitive, material, social. First the appropriation of gross consumption data is very relative, they become meaningful when they are associated witch concrete learning about means of action as well as a social enhancing of thrifty behavior. Second, the material dimension of all the objects which contribute to hold up effort of transforming daily routines as well as enrolment in a long term action aiming at the building conversion. At last, all the relational dynamics which takes place among families, between participants in the same campaign and with actors finally end up in the metamorphis of pratices in the long run.

KEY WORDS: campaign awareness, behaviour changes, smart grids / smart Meters, consumption follow up, accompaniment.

Living in Low Energy labelised housing: a socio-eco-technical analysis.

Jean CARASSUS (École des Ponts ParisTech)
Chantal LAUMONIER (freelance sociologist)
Bernard SESOLIS (Tribu Energie)
Damien JANVIER (Tribu Energie)
Rémi WRONA (Tribu Energie)

This study analysed qualitatively six Low Energy labelised homes units. The analysis was performed by combining three dimensions:
- Sociological: depth interviews of 3 households in each of the six homes units,
- Economical: a study of investment and running costs,
- Technical: analysis of technical options, calculation of conventional consumption, measures of actual consumption and comfort, comparison of the two.
1. These homes have no significant dysfunction.
2. Important dispersions were found. Actual consumption may be higher or lower than the label convention. Some total consumptions are lower than those required by the German PassivHaus label convention.
3. Consumption not reaching the label convention are however very efficient.
4. A significant number of households have higher consumption than label convention, sometimes for technical reasons but mostly for behavioural reasons. With a calculation of consumption per person instead of consumption per m², the results are reversed.
5. Measurements of temperature and humidity in summer show that the majority of operations provide satisfactory comfort. However, professionals should take special care in the South of France in summer comfort regarding the building and advice to residents.
6. After a period of learning, investment cost control has improved through better balanced techno-economic choice.
7. The choice of solutions should be first and foremost to simple and robust techniques.
8. Six main behavioural factors influence consumption: the number of people, length of occupation, the level of household electrical equipment and computers, the choice of indoor temperature, ventilation habits, and control of heating and ventilation equipment.
9. Feelings are generally good. Occupants can be classified into three categories: those who know the Low Energy label and try to optimize it, those who do not know the label and use the dwelling as a standard housing, and those who practice « rebound effect » by increasing their comfort at lower cost.
10. Professionals underestimate the importance of information and learning process ot the residents.

KEY WORDS: actual consumption – actual comfort – actual consumption/ conventional consumption gap – lived experience and behavior – impacts of occupants on performance.

Changes of energy consumption practices of social housings in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

Maya LECLERCQ (AnthropoLinks)

Within the framework of a project performed for social landlords of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, our team is carrying a sociological survey amongst a hundred of households that housing has recently been energy-efficiently rehabilitated. The sociological survey with the tenants consists in collecting some qualitative and quantitative data about people’ use of their housing, using both a questionnaire and a interview guideline. The survey is carried in close relationship with the measurement and analysis of the energy costs.
The survey and the analyses are in progress, nonetheless first results show some marked trends: most of the people consider they have adopted more economical practices in order to reduce their consumption of power and heating over the last years, but very few have adopted new practices just after their housing was rehabilitated (External thermal insulation, renovation of windows and doors and sometimes of the central heating). The measurement and analysis of the energy costs shows that the reduction of expenses billed to the tenants are below the expected results estimated in advance. This first results questions the support of tenants and awareness campaign during and after such major energy-efficiently rehabilitation.

KEY WORDS: energy, fuel poverty, consumption, analysis of the energy costs.

Living in an energy-efficient house : towards the construction of “inhabitant expertise”? Choices and appropriations of technological innovations with respect to lifestyles.

Marie MANGOLD (University of Strasbourg/SAGE)

Sustainable housing, as it is envisaged through current real estate programs, is the result of a socio-political integration of energy considerations. This integration has for instance led to the creation of thermal regulations and the injunction of a need for energy efficiency in new buildings. Transformed and used as a sales pitch, this criterion has generated a new market for energy-efficient housing. Inhabitants are consequently required to choose amongst a complex selection of technological innovations. Tensions might arise, as this new imperative for “proper living” might contrast with the intimacy expected from the personal space that is home. Indeed, inhabitants are no longer incited to adopt a passive attitude towards their energy consumption. As a result, appropriation of technological innovations can vary quite considerably, as it is dependent on the inhabitant’s representations (for e.g. self-regulated indoor air vs. “healthy” outdoor air). As a result, their own “knowledge of living” is put into practice. We will firstly present the framework of real estate evolutions with respect to building energy efficiency and technological innovations offered to inhabitants. We will then focus on how inhabitants make these innovations their own through appropriation. We finally conclude on living choices, amongst which energy efficiency is only one aspect. This communication is based on results from our current qualitative fieldwork which takes place in Alsace and involves participant observation, analysis of documentation on building projects, and fifty-six interviews of which twelve were conducted with builders and architects and fifteen with owners of “green buildings”.

KEY WORDS: technological innovation, energy efficiency, sustainable housing, lifestyles, standardization process.

Occupants as main actors of energy efficiency durability in buildings.

Lauranne MARCEL (Cerema)
Bruno SABATIER (Cerema)

PREBAT is a significant national program funding many energy-efficient buildings,
which Cerema is assessing the performance. Alongside data collection, a
questionnaire was established and given to the occupants, so that the
understanding of energy-efficient buildings could facilitate the interpretation of the
data on technical performances of buildings and systems (heating, ventilation,
energy production), as well as allowing to suggest improvements (conception,
relation with artisans, teaching methods for use of buildings)
These interviews with occupants of energy-efficient buildings highlighted that most
often conditions of use quite differ from what was expected at the time of building
conception : room temperature, ways to achieve comfort during summer, upkeep
of the building’s systems, etc.
We then further interviewed the occupants, supported by qualitative
questionnaires, in order to better understand the various obstacles and levers
inducing good practices which help in getting and keeping the best possible
performances for the building. We have learned from these observations how to
better take into account building’s use starting at the conception so that it is better
suited for its occupants. Many requirements stand out, especially finding solutions
for the difficulties of occupants to take charge of technical equipments, facilitating
systems’ maintenance (for the occupant as well as the building owner), or even
developing a teaching method about daily management of windows.

MOTS CLÉS : performance énergétique, qualité d’usage, occupant, confort, bâtiment.

Survey and definition of household behavioural profiles of energy use in Walloon urban houses.

Stéphane MONFILS (Université de Liege, Belgique)
Jean-Marie HAUGLUSTAINE (Université de Liege, Belgique)

Among other regulations, the European policy for energy consumption and greenhouse gases emission reductions has imposed, in its 2002/91/CE Directive, the certification of an existing building’s energy performance, witnessing its energy consumption and efficiency, when it is sold or rented. That Energy Performance Certification (EPC), calculated with a standardized approach which purposefully (and understandably) gets human factor out of the equations, aims at influencing real-estate market by introducing energy efficiency as a comparative criterion in the search for a dwelling and stimulating energy saving investments.
In order to reach those goals however, human factor becomes crucial: on one hand, efficient solutions (regarding transport, building energy consumptions, water and waste management…) have to be implemented by an intelligent decision-making authority who understands the complexity of the urban context and its impacts on the environment. On the other hand, solutions can only be efficient if users are aware of their consumption and overall impact on the environment. In this context, EPC’s results, in their actual form, do not help raise people awareness: often distant from reality, overestimating the consumption, they usually result is a general misunderstanding and misuse of the document.
This study aims at analysing the energy consumption related behaviours of the Walloon households, in order to model a number of behavioural profiles that will be integrated in the regulatory calculation method. More precisely, the target population is composed of owners of Walloon urban houses which energy performance has been assessed by a theoretical calculation method like the EPC, to allow data assessment and results comparisons with the real consumption.
The expected outcomes would be the creation of a complementary “custom-made” certification, data collection and actuation of the existing buildings stock energy consumption, or the creation of comprehensive benchmarking databases, fundamental for defining strategies on urban / regional / national levels.

KEY WORDS: survey, behaviour, consumption, energy, certification.

Living in energy-efficient buildings: what must residents get used to? Cases study in Lyon-Confluence and Greenwich Millennium Village.

Ludovic MORAND (EHESS Marseille/ Norbert Elias Center)

This presentation is based on empirical results from my PhD research around fieldworks in France and England. The study aims to examine how people living in innovative communities at the forefront of sustainability appropriate such spaces and, in particular, how efficient buildings impact their way of life.
Efficient building tends to establish itself as a disruptive innovation and, as such, creates inevitable difficulties in appropriation that lower the efficiency of the buildings but encourage an intense mobilization of social scientists in order to analyze them.
Due to the fact that social uses have a stronger impact on energy consumption in efficient buildings and because of the ambitious objectives to reduce CO2 emissions on a global level, the expectations that institutions address to users are unprecedented. Many studies in this field are problematized in connection with these goals that appear through the formulation of the research questions.
Such researches draw attention to “gaps” or insufficiencies in relation to a certain vision of the norm, regarding social acceptance, identification of limits and leverages of behavioral change, or misappropriations, skepticisms, and resistances that are typical of the social itinerary of an innovation. On the other hand, the focus on these predictably misfitting patterns gives a confrontational representation of the nature of the relation between users and technology, that verges on incompatibility.
I argue that this incompatibility or maladjustment seems to be over valuated if users experience is considered in a larger scale. If we focus less on the appropriation of specific technical systems or instructions for use and more on the current way of life in a “sustainable context”, we can see how this vision is driven by efficiency goals. Beyond technical problems that appear during trial periods or specific defects in the construction, the evaluations of comfort and convenience in efficient buildings from inhabitants are very positive. “Constraints” on life habits are nearly invisible or are perceived as mere instructions. On the other hand, I observe a paradoxical reversal phenomenon between the level of sensitivity towards environmental or energy issues and effective practices. Whereas the “sustainable context” plays a role in increasing the inhabitants’ perception of environmental and energy stakes, the greater autonomy of technical systems leads inhabitants to pay less attention to their consumption. In this way, we assist on a transfer of responsibility from practices towards technology.

KEY WORDS: sustainable neighborhoods, lifestyles, ownership, efficient building practices.

Green buildings facing the savoir-faire and savoir-vivre: the risk of against-productivity with technical innovations.


The current attempt to widespread habitat efficient energy imposed by the thermal regulation and encouraged by green taxation involves major technical changes in the world of construction. These changes concern both the building envelope (exterior insulation, air sealing, double-flow ventilation, etc.), heating systems (ECS Solar), or the development of eco-techniques housing (ecological floors, etc.). But a major stumbling block appeared in this dynamic: some of these technological developments, supported ideologically by the world of environmental engineering, require professional practices and inhabitants largely offset from the savoir-faire and savoir-vivre in use.
That is why field surveys show a myriad of problems of use, either in the implementation phase, maintenance and ownership by the people. These problems have as main consequence multiply technical malfunctions, and hence contradict the initial promises of the devices, both in terms of energy efficiency and economic relevance. That is why environmental technology innovations, beyond a certain threshold shift with social practices in use not only reproduce what the philosopher Stigler calls prolétarisation des savoirs but also would prove « against-productive » in light of the initial intentions of its promoters.

KEY WORDS: green building, technical innovation, uses, knowledge, against-productivity.

First steps of positive energy buildings in social housing.
Feedback on the receipt of housing by tenants.

Thibault VACHER (University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès/CERTOP)

France has developed an energy-greedy consumption model in particular through its ways of travelling, housing and consumption. The threat of the climate change has made the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for the public action. The recent draft bill on energy transition into a green growth sets a goal of 40% in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To reach this goal a reduction in energy consumption is necessary. In this context and as it represents the 43% of the final energy consumption, the building sector appears to be a priority to achieve energy savings.
Since the 1st of January 2013, the 2012 thermic regulation (RT 2012) stands out as one of the instruments of energy efficiency policies. New buildings should be « low consumption » (BBC model) and have to reach regulatory requirements related to their energy efficiency. From 2020 a new regulatory instrument (RT 2020) will require that all new buildings will be on positive energy (BEPOS model), meaning that buildings are supposed to produce more energy than what they consume.
In the social housing sector, politicals, economics, socials and environmentals issues related to energy consumption have led social lessors to engage heavily in construction projects of low energy consumption housing and sometimes of positive energy buildings. However, these new buildings rarely reach the expected levels of energy performance. The actual energy consumption is regularly superior than regulatory requirements. Household behaviours are pointed to explain the measured overconsumption. Faced with this hypothesis, social lessors have turned to support accompanying measures. The ambition of such operations is to change energy consumption behaviours by informing, educating and encouraging households with the aim to reducing energy consumption and controlling charges.
This communication proposal falls within the scope of a doctoral thesis, mainly based on two sites – the first in Midi-Pyrénées region and the second in Languedoc-Roussillon region. These sites are two operations of new constructions of social housing with positive energy buildings, winners of regional projects calls. A total of 57 housings, individuals and collectives, were delivered in the fourth quarter of 2013. Some months after the arrival of the first households, we conducted a sociological study based on observations and semi-structured interviews. We visited the home of nearly thirty households and methodology of our research plans to meet them again after one year of occupation.
The aim is to provide a feedback on households’ housing reception. We will particularly focus on households’ feelings, perceptions and representations and show the difference between what social lessors promise and the reality experienced by tenants.

KEY WORDS: thermic regulation, positive energy building, social housing, energy consumption, accompanying measure.