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Martin Pullinger

DR

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Personal profile

Current Research Interests

  • Behavioural approaches to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Low carbon and low energy practices, and the policies and technologies that help enable them.
  • Quantitative and experimental research methodologies, combining sensor and survey data with data science methods. 

My research in a nutshell

I am an interdisciplinary researcher whose work is linked by two main overarching interests:
  • How do our routine activities, our interactions with our built and natural environment, shape our climate impacts? In particular, which practices and behaviours lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions and resource use whilst maintaining positive social outcomes? How can technology and policy better enable those practices?
  • How can data science and digital technologies help understand our patterns of resource use and the behavioural, technological, policy and contextual factors which influence them?
My recent work has focused on using a mix of smart meter data, ambient environmental data and survey data to investigate:
  • patterns of domestic energy and heating use, and the occupant, building, and contextual factors which shape those.
  • the effects of digital feedback technologies, such as in-home energy displays, on domestic energy use.
I am also interested in how our management practices for semi-natural landscapes can support the maintenance and growth of natural carbon sinks, as an important contributor to net zero emissions.

Biography

Current work

I currently work as a Senior Researcher on two projects within the SUSTAIN Lab in the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. 

Describing and Explaining Domestic Energy Use in Scotland (DEDEUS): This EPSRC-funded project, part of the wider Smart Energy Research Lab project, aims to provide a detailed understanding of patterns of gas and electricity use in Scottish households, and to investigate the household, building, behavioural and contextual factors which shape them, to provide insights for Scotland's energy transition. Read more about DEDEUSRead more about SERL

Smart Energy Savings (SENS): The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has funded trials of several innovative energy feedback technologies drawing on smart meter data. I work as part of the independent 'Trial Design and Evaluation Lead' that has been developing the research designs and will undertake evaluations of the technologies' impacts on energy use and other outcomes. Read more about SENS

 

Earlier work

IDEAL - Smarter home energy systems (2013-2019)
This large, EPSRC-funded project explored the potential of enhanced sensor systems and Machine Learning methods to improve energy feedback displays in homes. My work evaluated the impacts of these systems on occupant energy awareness and attitudes, as well as changes in energy using activities and actual energy use. Read more about IDEAL.

BIGSMALL - Measuring (un)sustainable practices (2015-2018)
This EPSRC-funded project developed novel machine learning methods for inferring household energy using practices based on the 'traces' they leave in signals from a variety of sensors in the home (electricity and gas use, temperature and humidity). The project helped determine the extent to which the performance of everyday energy using activities can be inferred based on smart meter data and other data sources. My work evaluated the potential for these inferences to a) help us better understand the relationships between energy-using activities, their impacts, and the factors which shape them; and b) provide enhanced feedback to householders.

Much of my earlier research focused on how changes in our domestic practices can enable us to lead less resource (energy and water) intensive, whilst possibly more fulfilling, lifestyles. I have a background in understanding how patterns of work (Pullinger, 2011, 2013) and everyday practices (Pullinger, Anderson, Browne, & Medd, 2013) influence carbon footprints, energy and water use in the home, as well as wellbeing, and how options for changing individual practices are shaped and constrained by wider policy and socio-technical systems (Pullinger 2011, 2013, 2014; Pullinger, Lovell and Webb, 2014; Browne, Medd, Pullinger, & Anderson, 2014). I have contributed to the development of new quantitative and mixed methods approaches to measuring and tracking practices, their influences and their impacts (Browne, Pullinger, Medd, & Anderson, 2014).

 
Previous research projects:
  • EPSRC ARCC-Water project (www.arcc-water.org.uk), University of Lancaster, 2012-13. Investigating the daily water using practices, habits and routines which contribute to household water use. I contributed to the development of new quantitative and mixed methods approaches to researching these topics.
  • ESRC-funded PhD, University of Edinburgh 2006-11. Investigating the potential of policies which allow individuals to voluntarily reduce paid work, and hence levels of income and consumption, to reduce their carbon footprints.
  • Scottish Government, 2009. Investigating the role of product ecodesign in contributing to waste reduction in Scotland, producing a discussion paper for their 2009 Zero Waste strategy consultation.

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