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TASK 24 – Narratives and Storytelling in Energy and Climate Change Research

13 September 2017

Energy and climate change research has been dominated by particular methods and approaches to defining and addressing problems, accomplished by gathering and analysing the corresponding forms of evidence. This special issue starts from the broad concepts of stories, narratives, and storytelling to go beyond these analytic conventions, approaching the intersection of nature, humanity, and technology in multiple ways, using lenses from social sciences, humanities, and practitioners’ perspectives. The contributors use stories as data objects to gather, analyse, and critique; stories as an approach to research an inquiry; narrative analysis as a way of crystallising arguments and assumptions; and storytelling as a way of understanding, communicating, and influencing others. In using these forms of evidence and communication, and applying methods, analytical stances, and interpretations that these invite, something new and different results. This essay is a brief introduction to how, in our view, stories and their kin fit in energy and climate change research. We outline the diversity of data, approaches, and goals represented in the contributions to the special issue. And we reflect on some of the challenges of, and possibilities for, continuing to develop ‘stories’ as data sources, as modes of inquiry, and as creative paths toward social engagement.

Key publication TASK 24 – Advances in green leases and green leasing: Evidence from Sweden, Australia, and the UK

3 August 2017

Abstract Improving the environmental performance of non-domestic buildings is a complex problem due to the participation of multiple stakeholders. This is particularly challenging in tenanted spaces, where landlord and tenant interactions are regulated through leases that traditionally ignore environmental considerations. ‘Green leasing’ has been conceptualized as a form of ‘middle-out’ inter-organisational environmental governance that operates between organisations, alongside other drivers. Green leases form a valuable framework for tenant–landlord cooperation within properties and across portfolios. This paper offers a comparative international investigation of how leases are evolving to become ‘greener’ in Sweden, Australia, and the UK, drawing on experience from an IEA project on behaviour change and a UK project on energy strategy development. It considers how stakeholder retrofit opportunities and interactions in non-domestic buildings are shaped by the (1) policy context in each country (e.g., the EPBD, NABERS, and MEES) and (2) prevailing leasing practices in each country. Based on this analysis, the paper develops a new market segmentation framework to accentuate the different roles that public sector organisations and private property companies play as both tenants and landlords across countries. We suggest that national government policies assist the public sector in leading on better leasing practices, whereas international certification and benchmarking schemes (e.g., BREEAM & GRESB) may provide more fuel to private sector tenants and landlords. The paper concludes with a discussion of the fit between property portfolios and policies, suggesting that international green lease standards might assist multinational tenants and property owners in upgrading both their premises and their operational practices.

Key Publication TASK 24: “Once upon a time…” Eliciting energy and behaviour change stories using a fairy tale story spine

2 August 2017


The International Energy Agency’s Demand-Side Management Programme’s Task 24 aims to turn behaviour change theory into pilot projects. One obstacle to delivering successful behaviour change interventions concerns the silos between different stakeholders in the energy system and their limited collaboration. To facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration and co-design of better behavioural interventions and pilots, Task 24 focuses on participatory, shared learning in facilitated workshop settings. Storytelling is used as an overarching ‘translation tool’ between invited stakeholders from different sectors and research disciplines. A story spine loosely based on a fairy tale structure was used to collect over 160 stories from energy experts from over 20 countries. In this paper, I focus on the process of storytelling using such a story spine, and, to a lesser extent, the participants (the storytellers) and the product (the stories).

This is part of a Special Issue on ‘Storytelling and narratives in energy and climate change research’ in Energy Research and Social Science, which our Task 24 Operating Agent Dr Sea Rotmann co-edited.

The link to the paper is here and the document is attached.

Key publication TASK 24: Co-creating behaviour change insights with Behaviour Changers from around the world

2 August 2017


The International Energy Agency’s Demand Side Management Programme’s Task 24 engages a large number of global experts from many different countries, disciplines and sectors. We segment our target audience of so-called ‘Behaviour Changers’ into 5 main actors from: Government (‘the Decisionmaker’), Industry (‘the Provider’), Research (‘the Expert’), Middle Actors (‘the Doers’) and the Third Sector (‘the Conscience’).

Each one of these Behaviour Changers has important tools at their disposal, but each also faces restrictions due to their specific mandates and stakeholders. Some of their relationships with each other, and the end user whose behaviour they are trying to change, are strong and others have in-built systemic conflicts that need to be overcome. We designed a new ‘Behaviour Changer Framework’ of how to view the energy system from the human, rather than a technocratic perspective. At the 2015 Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference this was christened a ‘magic carpet for behaviour change’. It draws on various sociological and psychological models but adds its own unique flavour which is explored in field research settings on specific issues in each of our 7 participating countries.

We run workshops on real-life behaviour change issues with relevant Behaviour Changers from each sector designing, implementing, evaluating and disseminating interventions, together. This Task is a truly collaborative effort, where co-creation, including from the End User perspective, is key. Our overarching ‘language’ uses narratives and storytelling and we are developing behaviour change evaluation methods that go beyond kWh and beyond energy by focusing on double-loop learning strategies and co-benefits.

This paper provides an overview of the various tools Task 24 has co-created with its global expert network, how they have been used in practice in real-life situations and pilots and what the future of a collaborative, human-centric energy system could look like.

This display was awarded the price for most promising or innovative project or method by the popular vote. 


Task 24 – Subtask 8: The Behaviour Changer Framework

24 July 2016

This peer-reviewed publications explains the Subtask 8 Behaviour Changer Framework – our ‘magic carpet’ for collective impact assessment and collaboration. It will be presented at the 2016 ACEEE summer study and BEHAVE conferences.

Task 24 – Subtask 9: SCE-funded psychometric scale testing Report Final

24 July 2016

The ‘beyond kWh’ psychometric testing of scales funded by Southern California Edison.

Task 24 – Subtask 9: Evaluating Energy Culture: Identifying and validating measures for behaviour-based energy interventions

24 July 2016

Ford, Karlin and Frantz presented this peer-reviewed Subtaks 9 paper at the 2016 IEPEC conference.

Task 24 – Subtask 9: ‘Exploring Deep Savings: A Toolkit for Assessing Behavior-Based Energy Interventions’

24 July 2016

This is a peer-reviewed paper on the Subtask 9 ‘beyond kWh’ toolkit presented by Karlin, Ford and McPherson-Frantz at the 2015 IEPEC conference.

Task 24 – Subtask 9: IEPEC Beyond kWh Scoping Paper

26 August 2015

This paper, presented at the 2015 IEPEC conference in the US, is entitled “Exploring Deep Savings: A Toolkit for Assessing Behavior-Based Energy Interventions” and was co-authored by Dr Beth Karlin (University of California, Irvine, USA), Dr Rebecca Ford (University of Otago, New Zealand) and Dr Cynthia McPherson Frantz (Oberlin College, USA).

This paper argues for a more systematic and comprehensive approach to the evaluation of behavior-based energy interventions, and describes a preliminary toolkit that is currently being developed and validated in conjunction with the International Energy Agency Demand Side Management Programme (IEA DSM) Task 24 on Behavior Change as well as two large investor-owned utilities. The approach is informed by theories and empirical research on behavior change as well as a content analysis of 85 behavior-based energy interventions. It includes questions on: context (demographics), user experience (ease of use, engagement), material culture (what people have), energy practices (what people do), and beliefs around energy use (what people think). It forms the background scoping paper for the work that will be undertaken by Dr Karlin et al  and which is co-funded by PG&E and SCE during 2015-16. In 2017, we will validate the behavioral toolkit and its various modules in the participating Task 24 countries and develop any country-context specific updates.

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