‘Design | Behaviour: Making it Happen’ Seminar, 17th October – programme updated

Design | Behaviour: Making it Happen, mentioned a few days ago, now has a full agenda available [PDF] (thanks Debra) – here are the abstracts:

Tang Tang, Loughborough University
Creating Sustainable Behaviour: An exploration of environmental impacts of household cold appliance use

Products, as the interface between consumers and consumption activities, can give immediate and direct responses to users’ operations: how they are perceived, learned, and used. Designing a product means designing a user experience with the product, which also determines the compound impacts of this experience. A better understanding of what users do and how they interact, with products as well as the hidden factors behind the daily decision-making process should be gained in order to develop a valid critique of environmentally significant consumption. This study aims to show that in-depth user research is an essential starting point for improving product design for behavioural change to reduce environment impacts. A single product type, household cold appliances, was chosen as a case to explore the capacity of designer-conducted user study to identify unsustainable aspects of product use.

Ed Elias, University of Bath
Behaviour Driven Design

Energy using products account for a growing proportion of domestic energy use and it is important to make these products as efficient as possible. However even the most efficient product will waste energy if it is used badly. User behaviour can be a significant proportion of a product’s energy demand. This presentation will give an overview of the work being done to develop a Behaviour Driven Design Methodology for improving the energy efficiency of products during use, by studying user behaviours and designing the products to them.

Dan Lockton, Brunel University
Design for Sustainable Behaviour: Easier Efficiency by Influencing Interaction

The idea of using design strategically to influence users’ behaviour -Design with Intent – recurs across many fields, in diverse contexts, and a set of patterns can be identified, linking target behaviours to particular design techniques, physical, psychological and technical. Applying these techniques to environmental problems where user behaviour is a significant factor offers the prospect of Design for Sustainable Behaviour – helping people use everyday products and systems more efficiently.

Dr Debra Lilley, Loughborough University
Exploring the ethics of design for behavioural change

Informative, persuasive or coercive products can be designed explicitly to change people’s attitudes and behaviours and encourage more sustainable actions. Informative or persuasive products seek to achieve a voluntary change in behaviour; a coercive technology, on the other hand, force behavioural change. Coercive approaches, though arguably more effective than an informative or persuasive ones, raise challenging ethical questions for designers; is it better to educate the consumer and risk failure or overrule users and “force” behavioural changes in order to achieve demonstrable results? Is it possible to “prescribe” actions with absolute certainty that the user will respond in the manner intended? Designers are trained to envision possibilities. But to what degree can designers foresee unintended effects which may result from the use of the products they design? How can designers anticipate and “design around” appropriation and adaptation on the part of the user?

13th Sustainable Design Network Seminar – “Design | Behaviour: Making it Happen!”
engCETL, Keith Green Building, Loughborough University
Friday 17th October 2008, 10.00am – 4.30pm

If you’re interested in design and behaviour change, particularly as applied to ecodesign and sustainable behaviour, this will be a really important event and ought to be well worth attending; I’m very much looking forward to being a part of it.

One thought on “‘Design | Behaviour: Making it Happen’ Seminar, 17th October – programme updated”

  1. It’s somewhat bothersome to see the term “sustainable” often misused to describe individual products, when it’s really a global property of a system as a whole.

    What varies among the individual products is energy efficiency, in two ways — intrinsic efficiency of the mechanism’s use of energy in doing whatever the mechanism does, plus the efficiency of the user’s consumption of the output of that mechanism.

    A multi-compartmented refrigerator might have the same efficiency of compressor/cooling system, but users more efficiently consume the “cool” by exposing a smaller proportion of the interior to the warmer outside environment when retrieving something or storing something.

    Other use-efficiency effects can include:
    * Using up the perishables before an extended trip, and pulling its plug while gone. If the trip is long enough recooling it after uses less energy than it would have used keeping its cool the whole time.
    * Keeping the surrounding environment cooler. Opening the windows on cool nights does so without consuming electricity elsewhere (unlike, say, air-conditioning the place).
    * Avoiding having significant breezes, from windows or fans, in the kitchen at times when the fridge is opened. The less the air moves around, the less mixing will occur near the refrigerator door.

    All of those are user-behavior effects but not influenced by the fridge design.

    A fridge design effect could include door aerodynamics that reduce mixing of air volumes due to air currents and vortices generated by the motion of the door. A design whose door did not swing open but rather rolled, garage-door style, might be better (or, perhaps, worse) in this regard.

    A kitchen design effect exists, too. Running cold water pipes behind the refrigerator may improve its efficiency as the coils at the rear have an easier time dumping heat that way. The geometry of the kitchen could encourage the air near the refrigerator to stagnate rather than be breezy. The kitchen as a whole could be located in the basement, where it will tend to be cooler than otherwise, and the fridge and pantry area could even be placed in an uninsulated cellar separated by an insulated door from the rest.

    Designing the plumbing and air ducts and general layout to conduct heat coming off the stove away from the refrigerator also makes sense; a basement kitchen could even feed heat rising from the stove into ducts to the rest of the structure to supplement the furnace.

    On the other hand, putting the kitchen in the basement would break quite a lot of tradition. :)

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