Transdisciplinary Research on the energy transition at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy


Area of socio-ecological sustainability transformations

Experimenting with energy advice to home owners, for sustainable building, heating, and ventilation

TOOLS for Knowledge co-production between scientists and practitioners

Co-design of interventions with the home owners in so-called « Reallabore » or « social innovation Living Labs »

Scientific Methods for transdisciplinary knowledge integration

  • Life cycle analysis of use of energy and materials in the regional housing renovation strategy
  • Agent based modelling of regional effects of the aggregated home owners’ choices

Project synthesis

Knowledge as transformative energy. On linking models and experiments in the energy transition in buildings

The transformation processes towards a sustainable development are complex. How can science contribute towards new solutions and ideas leading to change in practice? The authors of this book discuss these questions along the energy transition in the building sector.

A transformative research that leaves the neutral observer position needs appropriate concepts and methods: how can knowledge from different disciplines and from practice be integrated in order to be able to explain and understand complex circumstances and interrelations? What role do complex (agent-based) models and experiments play in this respect? Which mix of methods is required in transformative science in order to actively support the actors in transformation processes?

Theses questions are illustrated by the example of the BMBF funded project “EnerTransRuhr”.


Project publications

Energy-efficiency impacts of an air-quality feedback device in residential buildings: An agent-based modeling assessment

A key factor to energy-efficiency of heating in buildings is the behavior of households, in particular how they ventilate rooms. Energy demand can be reduced by behavioral change; devices can support this by giving feedback to consumers on their behavior. One such feedback device, called the ‘CO2 meter’, shows indoor air-quality in the colors of a traffic light to motivate so called ‘shock ventilation’, which is energy-efficient ventilation behavior. The following effects of the ‘CO2 meter’ are analyzed: (1) the effect of the device on ventilation behavior within households, (2) the diffusion of ‘CO2 meter’ to other households, and (3) the diffusion of changed behavior to households that do not adopt a ‘CO2 meter’. An agent-based model of these processes for the city of Bottrop (Germany) was developed using a variety of data sources. The model shows that the ‘CO2 meter’ would increase adoption of energy-efficient ventilation by c. 12% and reduce heating demand by c. 1% within 15 years. Technology diffusion was found to explain at least c. 54% of the estimated energy savings; behavior diffusion explains up to 46%. These findings indicate that the ‘CO2 meter’ is an interesting low-cost solution to increase the energy-efficiency in residential heating.

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Project website