(ID:218) "Lichtstad op groen": engage end-users in design process. ...support users

DuneWorks BV
onderzoek, advies en procesbegeleiding voor duurzame innovaties

AddressTorenallee 45, 5617 BA, Eindhoven, Nederland
ContactSylvia Breukers, senior onderzoeker, sylvia.breukers@duneworks.nl
Line of industryConsulting and Design services; Research
Area of expertiseSustainability, maatschappelijke, gedrags- en leefstijlaspecten bij duurzame innovaties op de terreinen energie, voeding, afval/grondstoffen en mobiliteit
Size1-10 employees

Role of company/organisation

DuneWorks proposes to ensure that in the strive towards more energy-efficient municipal buildings, the end-user are engaged in the process. We bring extensive experience in social scientific research in the areas of user involvement, behavioural change, open innovation, as well as experience with practical interventions and evaluation methods. Our proposal lends itself very well to become integrated into other proposals, particularly those that have an ambitious scope and that include multiple stakeholders (with potentially diverging views, needs and interests). In all such plans, a wide variety of users and other stakeholders will need to become actively involved at different stages so that such sustainable innovations are the result of a co-creation process and become well embedded in Eindhoven society.

Opportunities for collaboration

Our proposal is about collaboration - between users, citizens, employees and the designers, building engineers, architects, city planners and other professionals with ideas to make the municipal buildings of Eindhoven energy-neutral. However, our scope can easily be broadened for a wide variety of ideas to make the city more sustainable and future proof, as we are well able to support processes of tailoring ideas for sustainable innovaton to the needs and wishes of end-users, citizens, companies and other stakeholders in Eindhoven. We are based in Eindhoven and there we work with a variety of public and private stakeholders in the areas of sustainable lifestyles, zero-energy buildings and citizen-led local initiatives. We furthermore have led open innovation processes - building trust, sharing knowledge and collaboration.

Description of idea

You need to log in to be able to vote

Please rate this idea!
Click on Vote and view to see the results.

A good starting point for making Eindhoven energy-neutral is to address municipal buildings and their use. Buildings offer a great potential for improving energy efficiency, via combinations of measures like insulation, enhanced ventilation systems, combined heat-and power, solar PV and solar thermal. Theoretically, such measures may even change buildings into net producers of energy. However, whether that happens depends to a large degree on the actual use of the building. Users of municipal buildings include employees (varying from civil servants to caterers and aldermen), subcontractors, but also citizens and visitors that come to the town hall. All these users are key to actually realizing the theoretical potential of innovations towards energy-neutrality. In addition, when these users become committed to energy saving and –efficiency, these new behaviours can spread like a virus both in these buildings, and outside since they bring their behavioural routine changes back home. This optimistic scenario does not happen by itself, but needs attention to the behavioural side. The pessimistic scenario would be that of energy efficiency measures that do not live up to their promised savings (or even worse: that energy use increases!) because the accompanying envisaged changes in user practices (ventilation, heating) do not materialise. This is likely to happen when users have not been part of the process of making buildings more efficient but are merely expected to accept the changes and adapt their behaviours – while no attention is paid to their needs and wishes. DuneWorks proposes to help realise the optimistic scenario “Lichtstad op Groen” First of all, we will engage the end-users in the process of designing the technical and building-related innovations, and if relevant, the architectural design of the buildings (interior). That means that we will intermediate and translate between the users (employees, subcontractors, visitors) and the architects, building engineers and other professionals involved in designing and realizing energy-neutrality in the building related components. This engagement helps end-users to become committed and involved in the (new) use of the building and to make sure the new building design, including the installations allow or even stimulate the users to behave more sustainably. The professionals on their part learn to listen to and incorporate user wishes and needs in their plans. Such wishes can be very straightforward like e.g. user-friendly ventilation system, being able to overrule settings of the heating system (sense of control). Secondly, DuneWorks will support the users (starting with municipal employees) in addressing their daily working routines and the energy related habit and routines. Not only will we focus on energy sec, but we will couple this to other aspects that are relevant for employees when being at work (health, feeling comfortable, food, social interactions etc.). Very concrete examples of tools and methods involve storytelling, nudging, ambassadors, using contest and creating a community at the workplace. This twofold focus – on the use of buildings and users' own practices and routines - ensures an integrated approach towards changing behavioural and lifestyle related aspects of energy demand.

Type of ideaservice
Category of ideadesign; work flow
Enabling conditionsTo regard behavioural change as a process at the individual level only is a rather limited understanding. A systemic approach regards changes in behaviours and lifestyles as influenced by and influencing the physical, technical, social and institutional context. The user is part of a system, and when this system is in transition, use and context change. Therefore, the integrated approach of this call is in line with what we envisage. It asks for a willingness and enthusiasm from the side of all professionals involved (architects, designers, technicians, construction firms and users) – as a necessary condition. Another necessary practical condition would be that employees are willing and able to spend some time and effort to become involved in this process.

Stage of development

Proven innovation: it has been used in practice on a small scale.

Substantiation stage of development

Our approach is based on both sound social science and piloting in practice. No blueprints for engagment exist; each participatory approach needs to tailored to the specific context, in this case Eindhoven civil servants within their daily working environment. We list relevant experiences: • CHANGING BEHAVIOUR project: a toolbox (http://mechanisms.energychange.info/) aimed at supporting energy behavioural changes at the level of households and public buildings. • Eindhoven is mijn Plek (www.eindhovenismijnplek.nl) DuneWorks supports local sustainability initiatives whereby the ideas, commitment and benefits for the end-users are starting points. • The Buurttransformator is an approach to involve end-users in making neighborhoods energy-neutral. DuneWorks and the TUe support Woonbedrijf (housing corporation) to evaluate and improve this approach. • DuneWorks has led an open innovation process among entrepreneurs http://www.open-innoveren.nl

Provability contribution to sustainability

Underpinned contribution to sustainability; this can be shown on the basis of experiments or calculations.

Step in the right direction

Sustainability is for and by people and our proposal focuses on that exactly. When it comes to buildings, research shows that many examples of technological innovation do not live up to their potential because the users have been ‘forgotten’. Research has shown that changing routines asks for an approach that does not only target individuals with information and (financial or other) incentives, but that acknowledge that this individual is part of a social context that needs to change as well. Moreover, if the physical surroundings support a change towards more sustainable lifestyles, this is supportive as well. As such, making the municipal buildings (and direct surroundings) more energy efficient offers an opportunity to start changing lifestyles (workstyles) towards more sustainable ones.

Flexible idea

Our focus on municipal buildings and the behaviour of the building users constitutes a very concrete and tangible first step towards reaching the aim of Eindhoven municipality in becoming energy neutral. Focusing on the users of the buildings furthermore allows for an approach that already involves and engages the citizens of Eindhoven as well, and as such the impact of the project could also spread across many inhabitants of Eindhoven – whereby the municipal buildings form a point of departure. Our approach is flexible in that it allows for engaging an increasing part of Eindhoven’s citizens (upscaling and spreading), whereby speed and directions can be adapted.

Good investment

Our approach is a good investment socially and societally because it takes people and their needs as a starting point (and not only technology). It is people that make (sustainable) technology work, not the other way around. Moreover, our approach offers first steps of a municipality-wide approach where not only civil servants but also other users of the city become involved (inhabitants, companies, public, private, societal organisations). As our approach aims at wellbeing of employees as part of the process towards changing lifestyles, it results in employees that are responsible, healthier and happier at work, which translates itself in a decrease in sickness absence. We refer to nr 14 for project references (research and practice) that underpin this argument.


Our proposal lends itself very well to connect to or become integral parts of other proposals. e.g. those that aim with a systemic approach towards making the whole region of Eindhoven more sustainable. We explicitly refer to innovations proposed in the areas of smart grids, ‘blue city’ ideas (e.g. the proposal “Eindhoven Stroomt” by Plan-S) . In all such plans, a wide variety of users and other stakeholders will need to become actively involved at different stages so that such sustainable innovations are the result of a co-creation process and become well embedded in Eindhoven society. The timely and proper involvement of al these stakeholders is by no means self-evident but needs careful preparation, planning and evaluation.

TurTur Innovation Transitions