One third of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions come from residential households. Householders could reduce this by making their houses more efficient, generating their own energy, switching suppliers, or simply switching off. But bills are confusing, energy use is invisible, and installation of new technology is time consuming and tedious.
For ten weeks in 2005, RED moved into a draughty Victorian terrace in Lewisham, South London, to look at energy saving from a homeowner's point of view. We worked with 12 householders across London to gain insight and generate ideas, backed up by input from leading energy experts.
We developed ten new concepts for services and products that could help householders reduce their C0 2 emissions, and ten policy recommendations.
The ten concepts, from 'onemillionroofs', the world's first distributed power station, to a 'power pension' and a new type of energy bill, are intended to provoke thought and open up discussion on the role a design-led approach could play in making energy saving desirable and user-friendly.
The proposals and policy recommendations can be seen in the form of short films, animations, scenarios and a policy paper at www.futurecurrents.org .
For six months in 2005 the site allowed the general public to vote on the ideas they most wanted to see taken forward. You can also download a desktop windmill which will show you how much energy your local wind turbine is generating in real time.
Current project status as of November 2006
Following on from some of the ideas generated through this project, the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Lewisham are partnering with RED Associate, Robin Murray, and concierge company, Ten UK, to prototype a green support service for homeowners. They aim to have a prototype running with 40 homes in Lewisham by 2007.
In May 2005 a design charette, jointly organised by RED and the London Climate Change Agency, brought Canadian and UK practitioners together to rethink energy efficiency services from the point of view of the householder. The group included the Deputy Mayor of London and the head of the Canadian national programme for domestic energy efficiency. The ideas to come out of that day set the agenda for the Future Currents project.
Website of the project, containing short films, animations and scenarios illustrating the concepts, and results of the public voting.
Designing for a changing climate - article
Short article on how we might design our way out of climate change. By Mathew Lockwood
Designing for a changing climate - policy paper
Detailed findings of the project; sets out policy recommendations and argues for an approach that engages the householder as an active producer and consumer of sustainable energy in the home. By Mathew Lockwood and Robin Murray
Desktop windmill widget
A desktop windmill application available for download: see how much energy your local wind turbine is generating in real time - and how much energy goes into making a slice of toast! By Matt&George
Windows version (.exe)
Mac version (.zip)
The RED team for this project was: Colin Burns, Jude Codner, Kirstie Edmunds, Nick Morton, Robin Murray, Chloe Myers, Chris Vanstone and Jennie Winhall.
Advising us on the project, and jointly writing the policy paper was Matthew Lockwood. We were joined by Haiyan Zhang and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino from Interaction Design Institute Ivrea who participated as part of their Masters Program in Interaction Design.
The team was assisted by the following organisations: Arup Engineering, live|work, Matt&George, more associates, National Energy Services & Stroma Technology.
Thanks also go to: Brenda Boardman, Creative Environmental Networks (CEN), Energy Savings Trust, David Hirst, Richard Hurford, Phil Jessup, Philip Kear, the GLA, Robin Stott, Sustainable Energy Action (SEA), and all the people who attended the Domestic Energy Efficiency Charette.