Methodology Review Making a Case for Grounded Theory in Occupants’ Energy Behaviour Research


It has been recognized by many researchers that social issues, such as occupants’ energy behaviour, play a vital role in reducing energy use. The previous research into the field of occupants’ energy behaviour can be classed into two categories regarding their methodological approaches. The majority of the research has been done using a quantitative approach where conclusions were drawn from large questionnaire surveys or tightly structured interviews, in which several factors that relate behaviour to energy use have been identified and agreed upon among researchers (e.g. age, housing characteristics, set point temperature etc.). Whereas only a few studies have adopted a case-focused, open-ended interview, or combined quantitative and qualitative methods, the findings using such methods showed potential benefits in gaining a better understanding of sustainability in people’s everyday lives and the nature of their energy use, which serves as firmer grounding to march towards energy efficiency. The comparison between these two main research methods in the same field is particularly interesting in terms of discussing the fundamental properties of the subject matter, and discovering specific aspects of energy behaviour which these different approaches could bring to the field. This paper reviews research from last two decades regarding occupants’ energy behaviour, focusing particularly on studies of residential low-energy buildings and Passivhaus, and compares various methodologies, reviews their theoretical suitability, application process and the impact on later research, then tries to make a case for qualitative research, especially for adopting Grounded theory in this research field.

Author Information
Jill Zhao, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Kate Carter, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ECSS2014
Stream: Research Methodologies

This paper is part of the ECSS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon