Project managers and researchers co-operated to produce the MECHanisms toolkit. It is designed for project managers working in intermediary organisations promoting change in energy behaviour ("energy change"), primarily on the local level. These can include climate action groups, local energy agencies, ESCOs, energy consultants, municipalities or others working with small energy end-users: households, housing managers, small businesses and local communities.
What is energy change?
Energy change here refers to energy saving, conservation, efficiency and other changes in energy use that can help protect the climate, such as the use of small-scale renewable energy or the reduction of peak loads. It deals with human behaviour, which can be either:
changes in routine and habitual behaviours (energy use patterns) or
changes in how investments are made (investments in energy efficient or renewable solutions)
Ideally, you would want to influence both types of behaviour to achieve the maximal impact. However, these different types of behaviours follow different logics and MECHanisms offers specific tools to address these different types of behaviour.
Sustaining both personal and social behaviour change
The word “behaviour” implies a focus on the individual. It is impossible to change the way people use energy simply by focusing on the individual behaviour. Energy use is shaped by families, peers, communities, infrastructures and service networks; and, of course, markets and society. If you work on projects on the local level, there is not much you can do about society and markets. But MECHanisms suggests things that you can do to engage the community, peer networks and stakeholders such as service providers.
There are many things that you can do to achieve an immediate change in people’s behaviour. The problem is that once your project ends, things often go back to the way they were before you started. This is because behaviour is shaped so much by people’s environment. If you work on projects on the local level, you might not be able to change the energy users’ entire environment. But MECHanisms shows how your project can help to create networks, practices and systems that will help to sustain your work one your project is finished.
Supporting both new and experienced project managers
MECHanisms aims to help both experienced and inexperienced energy project managers. If you are just starting, it provides a systematic approach for you to understand, plan and implement, and evaluate and learn. If you have years of experience, MECHanisms aims to offer tools for you to rethink your practice in order to:
- challenge and deepen your understanding of your target group and context
- widen the range of approaches and tools you use in your projects
- engage your target group and stakeholders in continual evaluation and learning
- enhance your organisation’s capacity to create deeper and more lasting changes in your community
Based on both practice and research
MECHanisms is based on both practical experience and research. It is produced by the CHANGING BEHAVIOUR project, a project within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. In CHANGING BEHAVIOUR, we used an extensive analysis of the literature, a database of 100 projects, a detailed meta-analysis of 27 case studies, interviews with 24 intermediary organisations, feedback from 170 energy practitioners, as well as six pilot projects to create the MECHanisms toolkit.