Keywords: energy efficiency, information technology, communication, ICT, social studies, smart homes, technology users, sustainability, sustainable development, environmental management, residential buildings, energy management, strategic management, technological change, product development, Austria
Sustainability as a matter of social context: information technologies and the environment
The paper focuses on the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the sustainability of residential buildings. While ICT can contribute to improving building energy efficiency (e.g., energy management systems) there are also plausible scenarios of an increasing energy demand triggered by ICT use. The main argument of this paper is that harnessing the sustainability potentials of ICT in buildings is largely a matter of social and institutional embedding and is not determined by the characteristics of this technology. The paper argues that the strategic management of technological change towards sustainability means providing sufficient scope for a co-evolution of configurations of technology, services and patterns of usage by allowing users and designers to interact at the early stage of product development. Examples for the organisation of such a process are drawn from a research project in Austria.