finding 6.3 : key-message-6-3

Social Nature of Energy Use—Opportunities to go beyond a narrow focus on the energy-efficiency industry to recognize and account for the social nature of energy use include 1) engaging in market transformation activities aimed at upstream actors and organizations in supply chains, 2) implementing efficiency codes and standards for buildings and technologies, 3) conducting research to understand how people’s behaviors socially vary and place different loads on even the most efficient energy-using equipment, and 4) adding consideration of what people actually do with energy-using equipment to plans for technology and efficiency improvements (high confidence).

This finding is from chapter 6 of Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report.

Description of evidence base: Key Finding 3’s four specific areas reflect current research that shows promising results from ­people-based approaches. Focusing on the systems involved in supply chains—technology designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers—brings people and organizations together in a common purpose to facilitate and provide financial incentives to bring more efficient and less carbon intensive technologies and processes into an industry. Similarly, codes and standards for buildings and technologies create industry-wide benchmarks and so encourage sharing of knowledge and practices as well as competition to be efficient or meet a standard such as “Energy Star” ( The variations in human energy use by place and social condition have been well established, but people-based research showing why such variations exist and how they can be addressed needs to be expanded and strengthened. When planners include studies of actual energy-use requirements instead of technical potentials, the efficiency gap lessens or disappears—or, in some cases, actual emissions reductions are greater than predicted. See especially Section 6.2.3 for a more detailed description of these research studies and relevant citations.

New information and remaining uncertainties: Uncertainties arise from the lack of needed social science research in these areas as well as from identifying other areas that would benefit from people-based research into carbon mitigation.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: There are promising areas of research with positive results in at least four areas of energy efficiency, leading to an assessment of high confidence.

This finding was derived from figure P.2: P.2. Likelihood and Confidence Evaluation

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