Consumption & Change Projects

Read about projects connected to the Consumption & Change research theme in the Global Sustainability Institute.


Social sciences and Humanities for Advancing Policy in European Energy (SHAPE-ENERGY) is a €2m investment through the EU Horizon 2020 programme, running over 2017-2019. Specifically, it represents a new European platform for energy-related social sciences and humanities (energy-SSH). Energy-SSH has played less of a role to date in shaping (European) energy policy than Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In funding this project, the European Commission is supporting better integration of energy-SSH into the policy process. SHAPE-ENERGY is co-ordinated by the Consumption & Change team at the GSI.

GSI staff: Lenke Balint, Dr Chris Foulds, Dr Rosie Robison, Prof Aled Jones

Collaborators: 12 other partners from across Europe, as detailed here

Methodological innovations in accessing narratives

Dr Chris Foulds is a visiting fellow at the EPSRC-funded Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP) over January 2017 – March 2018. Specifically, he is working with CIE-MAP partner Cardiff University on innovations in narrative-interviewing techniques, as part of accessing often overlooked aspects of practice histories and of people’s everyday life. There is a particular focus on the use of SQUINs (Single QUestions aiming to Induce Narratives) in interview methods, and their transferability beyond their origins in the psycho-social sciences.

GSI staff: Dr Chris Foulds

Collaborators: Dr Catherine Cherry (Cardiff University)

Strengthening capacity in energy justice research across Europe

In the context of Turkey’s low-carbon energy transition, the country has seen a steady increase in renewables which now account for a third of electricity generation. However, critical investigations into many aspects of Turkish renewable energy policy and deployment are lacking, and in particular, little has been done to quantify the social impacts of renewable energy deployment. Energy justice seeks to advance our understanding of how energy systems impact society. This project is working to develop collaborations between Turkey and the UK in the area, extending energy justice research beyond its largely western (UK-based) academic foundations.

GSI staff: Max Lacey-Barnacle, Dr Rosie Robison, Dr Chris FouldsProf Aled Jones

Collaborators: Prof Ramazan Sari (Middle East Technical University)

Imagination in academia

Dr Rosie Robison is working in collaboration with the Imagination Institute (headed by Positive Psychologist Prof Martin Seligman) on the role of imagination in different fields. In June 2016 the Institute brought together a dozen senior physicists to discuss the role of ‘imagination’ in scientific work. The rich qualitative data gathered from two days of in-depth conversations offer a rare window into researchers' perceptions of the imagination process, as well as how a group of senior scientists relate to each other. Rosie has led on the analysis of the workshop discussions and final report.

GSI staff: Dr Rosie Robison

Collaborators: Prof Herbert Huppert (University of Cambridge), Dr Scott Barry Kaufman and Lizzy Hyde (University of Pennsylvania)

Energy in Water

The two-year, €250k EnW project is led by the GSI and aims to share knowledge on the energy-water nexus, with a particular focus on developing a joint internalisation strategy and a roadmap for action. Consumption & Change’s role in this project is to lead a work package (WP2) that examines the state of the nexus in Europe. This includes identifying cross-sector priorities at the water-energy nexus, analysing the characteristics of the regions and SMEs involved in leading action on the nexus, as well as exploring the requirements of innovating technology supply and demand.

GSI staff: Dr Michael Green, chris-foulds, Katie Hiscock

Collaborators: Asociación Valenciana de Empresas del Sector de la Energía (Spain), Centre for the Development of Eco-enterprises (France), CLEAN (Denmark), Water Alliance (Netherlands), Zinnae (Spain), EA Eco-Entreprises (France)

Use of online monitoring tools

The energy requirements of most of our everyday tasks are invisible to us at the point of use. It can be difficult for us, as householders, to get a feel for how much energy different activities typically use, and potentially modify our behaviour based on that information.This project is looking at the effects of energy feedback mechanisms - where users track their energy use via a webpage which provides graphical displays - on consumption patterns. Energy Policy paper 2017: Energy monitoring as a practice: Investigating use of the iMeasure online energy feedback tool.

GSI researchers: Dr Rosie Robison, Dr Chris Foulds 

Collaborators: Dr Rachel Macrorie (University of Sheffield), Catherine Bottrill (Pilio Ltd), Dr Russell Layberry (University of Oxford)

Balance Network

Digital technologies are changing our personal lives, the way we work, and the interplay between the two. The Balance Network is an RCUK-funded initiative that aims to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to research and practice relating to Work-Life Balance issues in the Digital Age. The network is led out of the GSI, and complements other work within the Consumption & Change theme on the use of digital technologies for achieving sustainable outcomes. The Balance Network hosted Beyond Balance, a one day conference in London on 27 June 2016.

GSI staff: Dr Rosie Robison, Stephanie Cziczo, Joana Rodrigues

Collaborators: Prof David Kirk (Northumbria University)

Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity

CUSP's guiding vision for sustainable prosperity is one in which people everywhere have the capability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological and resource constraints of a finite planet. CUSP explores not just the economic aspects of this challenge, but also its social, political and philosophical dimensions. We address the implications of sustainable prosperity at the level of households and firms; and we will explore sector-level and macro-economic implications of different pathways to prosperity. This is a £6 million funded centre by the Economics & Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC) from 2016-2020.

GSI staff (across both C&C and GRR): Prof Aled Jones, Victor Anderson, Roberto Pasqualino, Sarah Hafner

Collaborators: Kerstin Hacker (Cambridge School of Art), for external collaborators see the main CUSP website

Past projects

  • Sustainable energy in the countryside: research into energy efficiency and renewable heat in rural areas, funded by Campaign to Protect Rural England, £15k total, 2015.
  • Co-ordinating ‘Practices, the Built Environment and Sustainability’ network's collaborative activities, funded by Anglia Ruskin University, £7k total, 2014-2015.
  • Smarter meters, funded by EPSRC (via SSN+), £3k total, 2014-2015.
  • Digital Epiphanies funded by EPSRC, £245k total, 2013 -2014.
  • Sustainability: new questions, new answers. Interdisciplinary workshop and edited collection aimed at being accessible outside of academia, £2.5k, 2013-2015.
  • SMARTLife: Retrofit for Business, funded by European Regional Development Fund, £490k total, 2011-2014.
  • Retro-fitting of social housing, funded by Energy Savings Trust, £130k total, 2012-2014.
  • Attitudes to low energy homes in the UK, funded by Skanska, £48k total, 2011-2012.
  • Evaluation of the Green Deal Trials, funded by South Cambridgeshire District Council, 2013.
  • Building Performance Evaluation, funded by Technology Strategy Board’s Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network (MBE KTN), £131 total, 2011-2014.