10 November 2015

New EU funded research project on socio-economic elements of energy efficiency

The Low Carbon Building Group (LCB) of the School of Architecture and Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development has been successful in its partnership bid to secure a major research grant worth €958,750 from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement No 649690. The project, entitled HERON (forward-looking socio-economic research on energy efficiency in EU countries), is a 26 month (May 2015 to June 2017) research study co-ordinated by the University of Athens in Greece. Prof Rajat Gupta is the Principal Investigator from Oxford Brookes, while Laura Barnfield and Mariam Kapsali have been researchers on the project.

Energy efficiency is considered as the most clean and effective ‘fuel’ in the combat against climate change. However implementing energy efficiency policies as well as solutions and technologies, is hindered by existing social, economic, cultural and educational barriers that correspond to behavioural characteristics of the societies of the EU countries under research.


HERON project therefore aims to enable policy-makers of multi-level governance and market stakeholders in EU, to develop and implement effective energy efficiency policies in the sectors of building and transport. This is achieved by incorporating non-economic and non-market elements, such as social, educational and cultural, with economic and technological elements into energy scenarios development and modelling reflecting the end-user behaviour towards energy efficiency in the building and transport sectors. The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • Investigate the impact of socio-economic and institutional factors on implementing energy efficiency policies and measures
  • Develop energy-efficient pathways for 2030 and beyond taking into account the socio-economic drivers
  • Improve energy modelling by incorporating social, educational and cultural factors so as to reflect the end-user behaviour
  • Establish communication channels between researchers, decision makers of different governance levels and social and market stakeholders

A total of eight academic and research organisations make up the project consortium, seven from EU member states and one from EU candidate country, including Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, UK, Belgium, Germany, Serbia and Estonia.

HERON project is implemented through five technical work-packages. Low Carbon Building Group is leader of work package 2 on mapping and assessment of social, economic, cultural, institutional and educational barriers to implementation of energy efficiency policies in the building and transport sectors of eight HERON partner countries, and also contributing UK-specific evidence to all other work packages.

The outcomes of the project will empower policy makers and market players by providing them with an innovative policy tool allowing them to select and implement the most effective policy instruments for energy efficiency in the building and transport sectors.

Further information on the project can be found on: