3S WP 2013-20 Foulds et al – Investigating the performance of everyday domestic practices using building monitoring

Building monitoring can enhance our understanding of everyday life, yet has sparsely been used in social practices research. Monitoring usually provides context (e.g. differences in performing practices) for more prominent qualitative inquiry, and is rarely centrally integrated methodologically. This paper aims to investigate the potential usefulness of utilising, and integrating more centrally, building monitoring to study the performance of domestic practices. Since the practices literature shows no theoretical incompatibility with monitoring, a UK Passivhaus development is examined in considering applicability further. Monitoring data include temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, and electricity sub-metering. These data are records of interactions with the material world, and, as such, are shown to be a particularly good basis for investigating how technologies relate to the other elements (influences) of practice in shaping everyday life. Reflections regarding the benefits and limitations of integrating monitoring with qualitative data are also shared (e.g. resident enthusiasm for co-investigating monitoring data; monitoring data having insufficient richness without accompanying qualitative data). Monitoring and qualitative data are shown to be complementary, and capable of producing insights beyond those of nonHintegrated approaches. We advocate using building monitoring more in researching practices, particularly when considering the everyday implications of technological changes.

Foulds, C., Powell, J. and Seyfang, G. (2013) Investigating the performance of everyday domestic practices using building monitoring. 3S Working Paper 2013-20. Norwich: Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group.

3S WP 2013-20 Foulds et al