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Negotiating comfort in low energy housing: the politics of intermediation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
  • Catherine Grandclément
  • Andrew Karvonen
  • Simon Guy
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Energy Policy
Volume84
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)213-222
StatePublished
Early online date11/12/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Optimising the energy performance of buildings is technically and economically challenging but it also has significant social implications. Maintaining comfortable indoor conditions while reducing energy consumption involves careful design, construction, and management of the built environment and its inhabitants. In this paper, we present findings from the study of a new low energy building for older people in Grenoble, France where conflicts emerged over the simultaneous pursuit of energy efficiency and comfort. The findings contribute to the contemporary literature on the sociotechnical study of buildings and energy use by focusing on intermediation, those activities that associate a technology to end users. Intermediation activities take many forms, and in some cases, can result in the harmonisation or alignment of energy efficiency goals and comfort goals. In other cases, intermediation is unsuccessful, leading to the conventional dichotomy between optimising technical performance and meeting occupant preferences. By highlighting the multiple ways that comfort and energy efficiency is negotiated, we conclude that buildings are provisional achievements that are constantly being intermediated. This suggests that building energy efficiency policies and programmes need to provide opportunities for intermediaries to negotiate the desires and preferences of the multiple stakeholders that are implicated in low energy buildings.