The overall goal of GILDED is to identify social, economic, cultural and political changes which could help rural and urban households in Europe consume less energy. While technological innovation can make low-carbon energy sources economically and environmentally viable, their impact in reducing carbon-intensive energy use will depend critically on broad public and political commitment to such a reduction. GILDED will target socio-economic, cultural and political influences on individual and household energy consumption through five regional case studies. Each case study focuses on a medium-sized city along with nearby rural areas. Investigating individuals’ lifestyle choices and their understanding of energy issues will provide insights into patterns of energy-related behaviours characterising emergent lifestyle types, and the particular drivers impacting on consumption decisions. The social, cultural and political contexts in which these behaviours are embedded will be addressed through analysis of the structural factors and actors (from local to EU level), including governance networks, physical environments, and materialized and institutionalized transport and provisioning networks. This combined ‘top down’ and ‘bottom-up’ perspective on household consumption will be utilised to inform the analysis of an energy-reduction initiative or experiment in each case study region. Principles derived from the lifestyle, structural and initiative studies will be utilised to structure agent-based models of policy implementation and change response. GILDED is a three year collaborative research project funded through European Union Framework Programme Seven, running from December 2008-2011.

Researchers involved: dr. Ellen van der Werff, dr. Kees Keizer, prof. dr. Linda Steg

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