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Seminars

Seminar 2: Understanding domestic micro-renewables: installation and use of heating technologies

This one-day event will bring together leading policy makers, practitioners and academics working in the area of domestic renewables for heat. Hosted in Edinburgh on Tues the 13th June, this event will enable different stakeholders to share and learn about experiences of working in the sector.

With gas and electricity prices rising, increasing numbers of householders are considering renewable heating technology, turning their homes into mini-power stations to cut bills and carbon emissions. In the UK, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), introduced by the UK government in 2014, aims to help the UK achieve its target of producing 12% of its heat from renewable sources by 2020. The scheme runs in England, Scotland and Wales and encourages householders to install things like solar water heaters, heat pumps, and wood-fuelled boilers. Rather than giving people or businesses a one-off grant, it works by paying them for the heat they produce. In a departure from other seminars on renewables (e.g. on community renewables or specific types of installations), the aim of this seminar is to focus on the everyday experience of living with these types of technology. By attending the event, participants can expect to learn more about international and UK policies in the area of domestic renewables, experiences of practitioners working in the sector, and, evidence from academics about the impact such technologies have on both installers and householders.

Details:

This event is FREE to attend, and will take place 1000-1500 on Tuesday the 13th June at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. Funding is available for accommodation and travel, please get in touch with us to arrange. If you would like to attend, of have any queries about the event, please email Louise (needed to confirm catering numbers, or special dietary requirements).

Seminar 1: Exploring new digital methodologies to understand domestic energy practices

During this event, we provided a forum through which researchers reflected on new digital/virtual/online methodological approaches in social science, specifically in relation to energy prosumption practices. During the seminar, the participants shared experiences of working in innovative ways to understand the performative character of everyday domestic social life.

We discussed a range of different theoretical, methodological and technical characteristics across what might be considered: ‘online methods’; ‘netnography’; ‘digital ethnography/methods’; and ‘virtual ethnography’. In essence, we were interested in hearing about a broad range of approaches which may seek either to: a) investigate practices using virtual techniques (observation of chat rooms, email interviews, gaming); and/or, b) focus on the study of new forms of digital living (e.g. ‘smart’ home technologies), broadly conceived. Given the nascent nature of the field, the purpose of the event was to encourage reflexive discussion on what are likely to be relatively experimental, immersive, and hybridised approaches, in order to identify and develop the strengths of these to understand domestic prosumption practices.

The event was held at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, on the 19th & 20th of October 2016 and aimed to establish a small, international network of academics who, through their research, seek to contribute to the development of online methodologies for the study of practice. By focusing on practice, we hoped that the group would report on approaches which privilege the performative nature of mundane and ‘hidden’ everyday domestic activity and its representations (e.g. doings and sayings). To that end, we recognised the diversity of theoretical approaches to the study of practice and were not prescriptive about a particular approach, rather, we welcomed academics interested in domestic practices, whether those be cooking, cleaning, laundry, entertaining, mending, caring or heating; to name but a few.

Blog posts about the event can be found here and here. Outputs from the seminar, including blogs, will follow shortly.

Participants at Seminar 1

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rachel

Rachel Creaney

PhD Student

School of Geosciences, University of St Andrews

Rsc5@st-andrews.ac.uk

I have a background in Anthropology, International Relations and Sustainable Development. Coupled with three years working as a research assistant on a wide range of topics (and utilising different methods), I have gained a broad base of knowledge and skills with which to approach my PhD, and I am keen to continue my connections with anthropological literature and theory. I am currently beginning a PhD which will critically evaluate the role of ‘Health-Smart Homes’ to further the wellbeing of older people in rural areas. ‘Health-Smart Homes’ will necessitate the involvement of innovative technologies and methods in terms of their monitoring and establishment. I am grateful to have a place at this seminar so as to gain knowledge on potential innovative methods, as well as good practice surrounding their initial and continued application. This may proof to be useful for conducting research on the impact of these houses, particularly when my study sites will be in mainly rural areas and with subjects who may be unfamiliar with these methods and practices.

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shaneShane Drennan

PhD Student

Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews

sd394@st-andrews.ac.uk

Shane Drennan is a PhD candidate in the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews. His research uses Social Movement theory to uncover the conditions that drive people to take up violent action, nonviolent action, or to abstain from participating at the beginning of a revolution, using the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions as his cases. His preliminary research elucidated several factors that encourage individuals’ actions and he intends to use those factors as the basis for his field work inquiries through a mixed method of surveys and social media data scraping and analysis. Shane currently works as an analyst in a NATO-related position where he uses various social media analysis tools and open source data gathering and analysis techniques to identify non-state actors’ messaging techniques. He is currently exploring ways to use ‘big data’ to identify patterns of activity that indicate actors’ efforts to influence the online social sphere as a precursor to other forms of action. Professionally, Shane has been involved in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts for nearly two decades. He holds a BS in Arabic and economics and a MLitt in International Security Studies.

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katherine Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs

Research Fellow

School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews

Ke68@st-andrews.ac.uk

Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Housing Research at the University of St Andrews, supporting Louise Reid’s project on energy prosumption and domestic microgeneration. She obtained her PhD degree entitled ‘Home-ing in on domestic energy research: home comfort and energy demand’ from the University of St Andrews in July 2016.

Katherine is interested in energy demand, home, and everyday life. She has some (limited) experience with online methods; for example, analysing user forums (e.g. discussion of living with microgeneration technologies on Mumsnet) and digital tools such as IssueDiscovery Tool and information visualisation by RAW by DensityDesign Lab (e.g. to explore key topics discussed on home improvement sites).

Together with the other members in the network she hopes to develop a common lexicon and situate her/other social scientists focused on household sustainability and everyday practices in relation to the theoretical debates surrounding the use of online methods. Furthermore, she wants to hear about other’s use of digital tools and experience using the Internet for research (especially use of VisionsLive, online focus groups, and GoogleInsights).

Twitter: @Ellsworth_Krebs

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mikeMike Hazas

Senior Lecturer

Lancaster University

m.hazas@lancaster.ac.uk

Originally trained as a computer scientist (PhD, 2003), Mike Hazas has more recently moved towards social theory and methods (BA Sociology, 2008). His research has focused on studying everyday life, most often but not limited to energy-supported practices in the home. The empirical basis has invariably included an exploratory interview, deployment of sensors/software to collect data, and a second interview to collaboratively explore that data.

Reflecting on Katherine’s blog post, Mike’s work is very much “research with the Internet”, since it studies reliance upon and incorporation of online services and communication which are implicated with what people do more broadly (everyday social practices): for example exercising, keeping in touch with loved ones, birdwatching, home repair, and playing games. Mike works with data automatically collected (device activity logs), and sometimes with data entered by the participant (diaries; short responses to questions sent by a researcher during the study).

At the workshop, Mike will be keen to discuss (1) the use of bespoke software/hardware to study how digital devices are incorporated in practice; (2) digital ways of engaging participants in the moment, to give accounts of and reflections upon everyday experience; (3) hearing about others’ experiences using blogs, online diaries and forum posts.

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matildaMatilda Marshall

PhD student

Umeå University, Sweden

matilda.marshall@umu.se

Matilda Marshall is a PhD candidate in ethnology at Umeå University, Sweden. In January 2017 she will defend her dissertation about sustainable food practices in everyday life amongst conscious consumers (holding the translated and preliminary title Sustainability for dinner: Practicing Sustainable Eating in Everyday Life). In a near future she aims to continue researching household sustainability and everyday practices with particular focus on historic and contemporary food storage practices. Some older non-energy dependent food storage practices which became redundant with the shift to refrigeration have lately returned as trends or sustainable alternatives (e.g. earth/root cellars and preservation methods) discussed e.g. in online communities.

By attending the workshop, primarily as an observer, she hopes to gain a deeper knowledge and inspiration on how to deploy digital methods to research domestic practices. Previously her ethnographic methods have mainly been “non-digital” such as interviews, shop-alongs, participant observations and archive studies. Especially of interest are digital tools that allow research participants swiftly providing qualitative material (e.g. reporting everyday food consumption) as a supplement or replacement to participant observations practices, as well experiences of applying analytical tools on qualitative digital material. Additionally, the workshop is an opportunity to network with researchers working with household sustainability and practices.

Twitter: @Fridgesandfood

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meyer_kristenKristen Meyer

Kristen Meyer is an analyst working on a NATO-related mission for the US government based in Cambridgeshire, England. She is currently researching non-state actors’ communications means and how those actors use messaging to affect social perceptions and conditions concerning various issues. Subsequently, Kristen is interested in understanding how non-state actors adapt to counter-messaging efforts, avoid or overcome digital denial of service operations, and measure their effectiveness in the online world. Her research cross-pollinates discourse analysis with big data to ascertain how messages are passed and how messengers affect their audience. Kristen is a native of San Diego, California and lived in Germany just before moving to England to take up this new and exciting position exploring social media from a NATO perspective.

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Louise Reid

Lecturer

School of Geosciences, University of St Andrews

Lar9@st-andrews.ac.uk

picture-045a_crop

Louise has a background in Geography (MA 2003, MSc 2004, PhD 2010) and moved to St Andrews in October 2010 as a Research Fellow working on the ‘Housing and Environmental Sustainability’ theme within the Centre for Housing Research. Since 2011 she has been a Lecturer in Sustainable Development and Geography, undertaking research in relation to low carbon lifestyles and sustainable housing. She currently holds an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship on the topic of Smarter Homes which uses online methods to explore householder’s experiences of energy prosumption. She also lurks on twitter: @louannereid

Louise is looking forward to meeting other people who are engaged or interested in digital/virtual/online methods in the context of sustainable housing. In particular, she wants to better understand different ontological approaches behind these methods, and to reflect on her own professional practice/use of these. She is also hoping to hear about some new tools and see how they are being used.

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guangyingGuangying Ren

PhD student

Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge

Gr350@cam.ac.uk

Guangying Ren is a PhD student in Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. Her current research topic is about how to reduce domestic energy consumption through the analysis of smart metering data. There are two aims for her PhD research. The first aim is to understand the domestic occupant behaviour in Hot Summer and Cold Winter Climate region in China, through the analysis of online survey and smart metering data. The second aim is to, by analysing the collected data with the appropriate statistical method, explore the feasibility of achieving carbon intensity reduction goal of 45% within Chinese housing stock by 2020 against 2005 level.

Guangying is interested in domestic, energy consumption, smart meter, and statistics. She did an online survey about domestic occupant behaviour in that climate region in China, and she is now trying to analyse the smart metering data to explore the occupant patterns in domestic buildings.

In this workshop, Guangying wants to learn different digital methods in the research field of household sustainability and everyday practices. She wants to hear different ideas of digital methods and the use of digital tools for research. She is hoping to find something useful for her research topic from this workshop.

LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/guangying

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jamieJamie-Leigh Ruse

Research Officer

National Energy Action (NEA), Newcastle upon Tyne

Jamie.Ruse@nea.org.uk

Jamie-Leigh Ruse is a Research Officer at National Energy Action (NEA), the national charity seeking to end fuel poverty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She obtained her PhD from Durham University in September 2016, for a thesis entitled: Living with the Pain of Home: An ethnography of political activism amongst Mexican migrants in Catalonia.

Since joining NEA Jamie has focused her research on the health impacts of living in cold homes. However, her interests lie in ethnographic approaches to understanding the lived experience of fuel poverty in the UK, ultimately working towards the development of a comparative ethnography of fuel poverty in Europe. She is currently looking at creative ways in which digital technologies can be used to access and represent data through participatory means that can be experienced as empowering for research subjects. This includes the use of techniques such as digital story-telling.

Jamie has some experience in online methods (e.g. social media tracking and analysis on Facebook and Twitter) and digital tools such as Ncapture for Nvivo. Together with other participants she wishes to explore how participatory research methods that use digital techniques can be combined with grassroots level empowerment in order to achieve wider policy impacts.

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helenHelen Stockton

Research Manager

National Energy Action (NEA), Newcastle upon Tyne

Helen.Stockton@nea.org.uk

Helen Stockton is Research Manager at the national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA). The charity aims to increase action on fuel poverty, develop and progress practice and policy-based solutions and to enhance energy efficiency and fuel poverty education and skills. The Research Team at NEA works to contribute to meeting these aims and to support and uphold the charity as the expert voice on behalf of the fuel poor; to make effective use of the evidence, insights and expertise resulting from research; to inform policy and good practice; and contribute to achieving NEA’s vision of no-one living in fuel poverty.

Helen is a social research practitioner with over 15 years of applied experience. She completed a BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in 2001 and holds an MSc in Social Research (2008) and MSc in Public Administration (2014) covering aspects of social policy development and analysis, and public sector management. As Research Manager, Helen oversees the design, development and execution of programmes of research and policy analysis relevant to NEA’s objectives. Helen’s areas of research interest include social policy, social and financial inclusion and in particular issues relating to poverty, energy and social justice. Helen has a particular interest in social research methods and how new and innovative methods and research design can be harnessed to engage, research and better represent vulnerable or marginalised citizens and consumers.

Helen has worked on many of NEA’s past and current projects including an evaluation of npower’s Fuel Bank pilot scheme; research into the lived experiences of fuel poverty among families off the gas network and the impact gas heating interventions; and for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) examined the modifying effect of payment types on the energy use practices of families with children.

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tjerkTjerk Timan

Postdoc

Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

Tilburg University, The Netherlands

t.timan@tilburguniversity.edu

As of July the first 2014, Tjerk works as a Postdoc researcher on surveillance and privacy in the VICI project of prof. Bert-Jaap Koops, Tillburg University. (see http://www.privacyspaces.org).He defended his PhD thesis at the University of Twente in 2013, in the field of Science-and Technology Studies. Tjerk also worked as a lecturer on Digital Methods and Big Data and Visualisation for Social Sciences at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Currently, his research interests lie in design and research methodologies in STS and regulation studies, user studies, CTA and privacy and surveillance in-and of novel ICTs and the role of the archive in a networked society.

My research interest for this workshop is to learn from other scholars how they see and potentially use online methods for research and to discuss benefits and drawbacks. On a more theoretical level, I am interested in the effect of online methods as a research paradigm and the different types of knowledge or insights this provides vis a vis ‘classical’ methods. An article I wish to share concerns big data and emerging ethics of doing research in, with, or through big data (http://datasociety.net/output/supporting-ethical-data-research-an-exploratory-study-of-emerging-issues-in-big-data-and-technical-research/). Where it is debatable whether data science and online methods are truly big data (many would argue it is not), similar ethical rules apply, that I hope to discuss during the workshop.

web: tjerktiman.nl

twitter: @tjerk

skype: tjerktiman

ssrn: http://ssrn.com/author=2322732

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kelly.pngKelly Widdicks

PhD student

Computing Science, Lancaster University

k.v.widdicks@lancaster.ac.uk

Kelly Widdicks is a first year Computer Science PhD student at Lancaster University. Since 2014, she has been working with Mike Hazas as her supervisor where he has mentored her undergraduate final project, research associate roles and now her PhD. These projects have revolved around sustainability in everyday life, including thermal comfort and the data demand of Android devices. Her proposed PhD research concerns adaptive thermal comfort: developing an ecointeractive system, through the use of smart devices, to help people reflect on their everyday thermal experiences and reduce the associated energy consumption from space heating. Whilst previous work primarily aims to automatically adapt heating in the home based on inhabitants’ schedules, or “change behaviour” through eco-feedback, her research will steer away from setpoint temperatures and interactively engage inhabitants to focus on comfort. Research directions include considering people’s broader thermal experience and ‘thermal journeys’ (as they move between indoor and outdoor spaces and different activities) to help them react effectively to temperature changes throughout different locations.

In her work on Internet demand, Kelly has applied the technique of device usage logging in order to gather and analyse data for understanding people and how mobile devices are incorporated in their everyday lives; she will share experiences and challenges of working with these novel methods at the workshop. However, she expects that primarily she will be learning from other attendees, extending her current, and limited, knowledge of digital methods, analysis and theoretical underpinnings.

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lucyLucy J. Wishart

Teaching Fellow

School of Management, St Andrews

La24@st-andrews.ac.uk

I am a teaching fellow in the School of Management at the University of St Andrews. Through my research I seek to understand governance practices which support a transition towards a circular economy. In my PhD I reviewed the rationale behind the Scottish Government’s national zero waste policy. In future research I would like to focus on socio-political elements which shape the reuse economy within Scottish society.

Disposal has traditionally been a largely hidden practice in society, but increasingly waste management is becoming more visible, particularly online. Projects like litterati and War on Waste are highlighting waste issues whilst bloggers such as Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer are challenging the negative associations of the zero waste lifestyle. More and more people are choosing to dispose online using traditional auction sites like eBay but also less formalised groups on social media such as Facebook. I am interested in investigating how these new online waste spaces are shaping practice and governance, particularly in contributing to lay-knowledge about waste, disposal and reuse.

Digital methodologies have not been widely used in sustainable waste studies (and I am yet to use them in my own research). I am interested in learning from workshop participants what methods have worked for them in understanding domestic energy practices.

My own online footprint can be found on twitter (@lucyjwishart); on Instagram (@sgudal) and most recently on wordpress (https://sgudalblog.wordpress.com/)

 

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