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NRP71: Promoting energy-sufficient behaviour in cities

At a glance


Cities will be key agents of change in the upcoming energy turnaround in Switzerland. They promote technical efficiency measures and behavioural change for saving energy, both as role models and by addressing consumers. A crucial question is how cities can best motivate private consumers to change their behaviour, i.e. to become more energy sufficient.

Project goals:

In order to guarantee reduced consumption, efficiency measures should be combined with sufficiency-oriented forms of behaviour. The project aims to identify activities that cities can promote to reduce private energy consumption (including campaigns, promotion of specific technologies, incentives), as well as to better understand and test the role of formal social groups in addressing private consumers. Specifically, it aims to examine whether formal social groups such as sports clubs and district associations can function as multipliers of communal energy-sufficiency activities. It does not address energy consumption directly. Instead, it focuses on practices linked to energy use, such as transport to training facilities, showering, etc. A multiplier effect is anticipated, as behavioural changes adopted in the context of formal social groups could spill over into private activities. A series of psychological real-world experiments form the core of the project. The key idea is that an activity promoting energy sufficiency developed by the city authorities could differentially affect energy-efficiency behaviour, whether it addresses people directly or through formal social groups.


This study supports efforts of municipal authorities to promote energy-sufficient behaviour. The results comprise an energy-sufficiency strategy for cities, which can be defined as a set of sufficiency activities in a city over time. They show how cities can use formal social groups to promote energy-sufficient behaviour by private consumers. Close collaboration with Winterthur, Baden and Zug throughout the project will foster the applicability of the findings and ensure that the insights of this study will find their way into policy-making.

Further information