Integrating User Centred Design into the development of energy saving technologies
thesisposted on 12.06.2014, 07:58 by Becky Mallaband
Legally binding targets set by the UK government to reduce carbon emissions by 2050 mean it is imperative that the efficiency of the UK housing stock is improved. Housing currently contributes over 30% of the UK s total carbon emissions and a large proportion of the current stock will still exist in 2050. There is therefore a need to retrofit this existing stock with energy saving measures, as the savings from new builds will not be adequate to meet the stringent carbon reduction targets. Whilst technologies to facilitate energy saving retrofit are available, there has been a low uptake from householders in the UK, in part due to the lack of consideration of user requirements within the design of these technologies. To investigate this issue further, this thesis considers two main questions: How can the design of energy saving measures and the process of retrofit of the existing UK housing stock be improved through the use of user centred design (UCD) and How can UCD methods be applied to the research and development process for energy saving measures in order to improve the outcome? Through the research, it became clear that in order to answer these questions, it would be necessary to work across disciplines and therefore a third Research Question was posed; How can UCD facilitate working across disciplines in the context of an energy research project? The results provide evidence of how UCD can effectively improve the design and development process of energy saving technologies, the process of retrofit and the practice of cross-disciplinary working within a research environment. The research is novel in several ways: firstly, the UCD process has been applied in the area of domestic retrofit, giving new insights into the barriers and opportunities to retrofit; secondly, home improvement has been investigated by viewing the home as a complete, interacting system, using novel methods; thirdly, a set of UCD specifications have been created to inform the design of heat pumps, a specific domestic energy saving technology, and finally, enhancements to the UCD process are made for use within an energy technology project, together with the development of six principles for effective cross-disciplinary working and conceptualisation of the bridge building role which the UCD practitioner fulfills.