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Research project to unearth how good design can cut our energy use


An innovative Brunel research project is set to develop creative new ways to encourage each of us to reduce our energy use outside the home.

The EMPOWER project, a collaboration between Brunel Design, the University of Warwick and the sustainable innovation organisation More Associates, aims to get to the root of how and why we use energy in workplaces, schools and hospitals through a series of interactive design workshops.

The findings from these workshops will help the project team to develop products that make it easier for both individuals and businesses to change their behaviour and collectively reduce their energy use.
Benefits for businesses include financial savings and a reduction in CO2 emissions, as well as a more user-friendly work environment for building users. The resulting products will also be integrated into More Associate’s existing CarbonCulture tool, an initiative that helps government departments to save energy and carbon.
The two-year, £580K project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Technology Strategy Board and More Associates, with Brunel’s Professor David Harrison and PhD student Dan Lockton leading the Brunel arm of the research.
Dan explained the potential impact of the project outcomes: “The product will give people a new kind of interface onto how their actions affect energy use, helping people to understand how to act more sustainably in the workplace.”He added, “The product will be commercially available and especially suited to organisations with lots of staff and large energy bills – especially universities.”