The role of co-design in supporting energy-related retrofit by householders
thesisposted on 04.05.2017 by Stuart A. Cockbill
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
This thesis investigates the role of co-design in the design and development of services that help householders to make decisions to make their homes more energy efficient by installing energy saving measures. The key issues facing co-design research are (1) the lack of understanding of how to increase and assess its impact and effectiveness, and (2) the provision of empirical evidence of the benefits associated with it. This thesis identifies and reviews different theoretical approaches to help provide evidence of the benefits associated with co-design (Chapter 2), adopting, applying and testing them throughout the empirical work. Research methods are also discussed alongside the particular challenges facing co-design research (Chapter 3). An exploratory study involving co-design practitioners (Chapter 4) confirmed what was shown to be lacking in the co-design literature, concluding with a need to focus on assessing the impact and effectiveness of co-design processes both theoretically and practically. A mixed methods study follows (Chapter 5) that took a service design perspective to identify how co-design could be applied to the design of energy advice and information, to explore householders individual decisions in detail, and to engage with householders to aid their understanding of the complex and intangible topic of energy . Chapters 6 and 7 then describe how co-design was applied to energy-related retrofit: firstly assessing the impact of co-design on householder s quality judgements of personalised information-based energy advice reports (i.e. the resulting designs from the co-design process), and secondly focusing on impact of the process aspect of co-design (i.e. what goes on ) on householders energy-related retrofit intentions, decisions and behaviours (i.e. the outcomes). Evidence of the benefits associated with co-design is provided including impact on the quality of resulting designs, and the role of co-design in enabling detailed understanding of peoples lived experiences and circumstances. The limitations of the particular analysis approach taken are then reported. The final study (Chapter 8) co-designs future energy-related service propositions with householders, building and energy technologists and user centred designers, highlighting the potential roles for smart energy data . The study concludes that immersing future end users into complex problem spaces is useful for co-designing future service propositions, and that it is beneficial to introduce wider stakeholders to develop concepts further. In understanding the outcomes of these studies, this thesis discusses (Chapter 9) the application of co-design to the energy-related retrofit domain, focusing in particular on (1) the implications of the approach taken to assessing the impact and effectiveness of co-design processes, (2) the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating personalised energy information in co-design activities, and (3) the limitations of integrating measures of impact and effectiveness into collaborative activities. Recommendations for the effective application of co-design are also presented. In conclusion, specific contributions and avenues for further work are highlighted (Chapter 10).
Loughborough University, Glendonbrook Doctoral Fellowship.