Energy Council of Canada Fellow Bronwyn Lazowski
This year I had the incredible opportunity to attend and present my research at the 10th Annual Behaviour Energy and Climate Change (BECC) conference as a WISE ECC Energy Policy Research fellow.
Individuals and organizations passionate about energy demand management through shifting behaviours attended this conference. Attendees held a variety of positions, including: academics, utility providers, program developers, graduate students, consultants, and public policy makers.
With the main theme of these conferences focusing on behavioural nudging surrounding energy use, the renowned Nudge Author, Cass R. Sunstein, was the keynote speaker. Mid-way through the conference a spotlight session, hosted by Paul Wright, the Director of the Berkeley Energy and Climate Change Institute, focused on shifting the climate change conversation and featured discussions from Sharon Dunwoody (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and the Honourable Bob Inglis (U.S. Representative R-South Carolina, 1993-1995, 2005-2011). The closing plenary of the conference focused on profiles in leadership and providing a mixed-method approach to program and policy design, engaging both social and technical expertise. The distinguished panellists, Maya Shankar (Senior Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House), Elaine Ulrich (SunShot, U.S. Department of Energy) and Chris Weaver (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), all identified the importance of incorporating behavioural elements to program and policy development at various levels.
In addition to the plenary talks, a variety of interesting sessions took place focusing on a range of topics for changing energy consumption behaviours. These presentations included topics such as: behavioural theories, engaging low-income consumers, smart technologies, home energy reports and strategies for program development. There was a strong focus on utilizing design-thinking approaches to empathize with consumers in program development while accessing other marketing approaches for successful implementation.
Moreover, innovative methods of quantitative analysis for predicting consumption savings by clustering customers based on their consumption load profiles were presented. This new area coined as ‘behavioural analytics’ provides an attractive approach for utilizing smart meter data to understand and effectively target consumers. Representatives from Oracle (previously Opower) presented a strong case for segmenting markets based on these approaches.
I had the incredible opportunity to present my doctoral research as part of the poster gala at this conference. My work was entitled Evaluating Residential Engagement with Smart Grid Technologies, which is one portion of my doctoral research as a WISE ECC Energy Research Policy Fellow. This poster summarized the results of a large-scale implementation of in-home displays within central Ontario households. During my discussions with participants at the poster gala, a variety of attendees were intrigued about energy research at the University of Waterloo, as well as WISE. It is interesting to note, that the University of Waterloo had a strong presence at this conference as the only Ontario-based University present at this conference. There were few Canadian students in attendance, and I was only one of two Canadian graduate students presenting research.
There was a strong presence from representatives active in energy policy, industry and academia from Ontario. This included the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the IESO, and organizations like Power TakeOff and Love Energy Consultants. With the University of Waterloo, and the Province of Ontario holding a large presence at this conference, this shows a strong opportunity for organizations in Ontario to lead the development of a similar Canadian-based event that could develop partnerships among policy-makers, academics, utilities and consultancies.
As a first-time attendee of BECC I was enthused to find research as well as program and policy development in other jurisdictions that aligns with my research directions, and to those of the other ECC Fellows. Multiple individuals highlighted the importance of my research with WISE and how it could influence their work. These events provide me with incredible inspiration for further developing my research and I look forward to future events representing WISE as an ECC Fellow.