Loughborough University
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Towards sustainable use: design behaviour intervention to reduce household environment impact

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posted on 2010-11-08, 13:53 authored by Tang Tang
The use of electrical products has a significant environmental impact, mainly determined by user behaviour, which has overridden the energy efficiency gains in the household from technological and educational solutions. Designers are identifiably in a position to plan and shape the way in which consumption occurs and to fill the gap between values and everyday user actions. Despite this, the literature demonstrates that the use phase of the product life cycle is often neglected in sustainable design. Few attempts have been made to change user behaviour through design-led interventions to limit its environmental burdens. In addition, there is a lack of understanding of users perceptions of environmental issues with reference to the specific context: actual use, habits and fundamental needs of the product as well as the behaviour changing products. This makes creating sustainable use of the household appliance lessen the significance of its original purpose. The aim of this research is to seek the role that design could play in influencing more sustainable actions to reduce environmental household impacts. Based on a comprehensive literature review in diverse disciplinary fields of enquiry, a Design Behaviour Intervention Model has been established to bridge the social-psychological theories of behaviour and the behaviour intervention approaches. To inform this enquiry, a single product type (household cold appliance) was chosen as a case study to explore the capacity of a qualitative behaviour study to identify unsustainable aspects of product use. Two design activities were carried out: one examining the designer s ability to respond to the design brief and the other applying the findings that emerged from the in-depth behaviour analysis and the model into the design process. The selected outcomes from the design study are evaluated by a focus group to uncover the users acceptance level of these concepts and the behaviour intervention approaches applied. The collective findings are discussed along with the usefulness and effectiveness of the Design Behaviour Intervention Model in Design for Sustainable Behaviour. This research highlights that a detailed user study is not only the first step for improving energy efficiency in product use but also the origin of innovative design concepts to tap the market by providing better and greener use experiences. Useful insights on primary findings have emerged: the effectiveness of applying the social-psychological theory in the Sustainable Design domain; principles of improving effectiveness and acceptability of the behaviour interventions; and a guide for Design for Sustainable Behaviour.



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© Tang Tang

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

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