Article: 'The role of psychology and social influences in energy efficiency adoption'

Hanus, N. et al., 2018. The role of psychology and social influences in energy efficiency adoption. Energy Efficiency, 11(2), pp.371–391. Available at:


Current energy efficiency policy and incentive programs tend to target economic motivations, which may misalign with other potentially important motivations arising from situational factors, individual differences, and social context. Thus, in this research, we review areas of work that have focused on psychological and social influences to energy efficiency adoption in commercial buildings. We then conduct an empirical scoping study interviewing 10 commercial building owners/managers (decision makers) and 10 experts/consultants (decision influencers) regarding perceived motives and barriers to energy efficient investments, decision-maker attributes, and the social context of the decision. Potential factors that emerge from the interviews, which are not yet extensively discussed in the energy efficiency literature, include owners/managers’ resistance to change and the influence of investment funding origins on the decision. Our results also suggest potential heterogeneity in energy efficiency decision-making philosophies between the two groups. Interviewed owners/managers prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR) and prefer internal consulting (e.g., building engineers). Conversely, experts/consultants do not emphasize CSR and are more concerned with external policies. These findings suggest that accounting for the decision maker and the social context in which decisions are made could enhance the design of commercial sector energy efficiency programs.

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