Loughborough University
Thesis-2013-Littleford.pdf (3.43 MB)

Energy use by individual office workers: psychological and contextual influences on behaviour

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posted on 2013-11-13, 13:43 authored by Clare Littleford
Research into energy demand in office buildings has tended to focus on building fabric or systems, or the organisation as a whole, rather than the actions or motivations of individual building occupants. This study applies an attitude-behaviour approach used more frequently with household or travel behaviours to energy demand behaviours by individual occupants in office settings. The approach is extended to include contextual factors such as behavioural control, organisational expectations and social influences. Comparisons are drawn between the office and home settings. The study took place in the offices of two local authorities, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, and included a questionnaire survey (n=819), semi-structured interviews (n=9), and building surveys (n=5). Behaviours examined included switching off lights, computers and computer monitors. Lighting behaviours were reported to be carried out more frequently than computer monitor behaviours in both the office and household settings. Analysis of behaviours identified that they needed to be considered at a specific level, according to the equipment (lighting, computer monitors), setting (office, home), and triggers (finishing a task, leaving a room). The physical context of the behaviour was particularly important. Different levels of individual control over energy affected the performance of behaviours. No evidence was found to support the notion of spillover that enacting one energy demand behaviour might lead to the enactment of further energy demand behaviours, including for similar behaviours performed in different settings (e.g. the office and the home). Organisational, social and psychological/attitudinal influences on individual behaviour were also examined. Structural Equation Modelling examined influences proposed by the Theory of Planned Behaviour and Values-Beliefs-Norms Theory. Neither theory provided a strong explanation of the collected data. However, support was found for the Perceived Behavioural Control construct, while moral and value-led constructs had a small influence on behaviour. This thesis provides recommendations for practitioners and policy makers seeking to reduce individual-level energy demand in office settings, and for future research into energy use in organisational settings. Recommendations include promoting energy saving as an aspect of professionalism, characterising energy demand behaviours specifically by setting and equipment, and recognising the importance of the social aspects of shared office environments.


Loughborough University



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Clare Littleford

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en