WICKED World Research Tour

KATY_squareWICKED research director Dr. Kathryn Janda traveled to 10 cities in 6 countries during the summer of 2015 to exchange knowledge with colleagues and present her recent research.   To foster a network of interested parties, this page contains her itinerary, contacts, and connections, as well as a list of presentation topics and a biography. Presentation topics include (1) storytelling in energy policy, (2) energy strategies in the retail sector, (3) market transformation of commercial real estate practices, and (4) the evolution of green leases. 

Visits include:

Presentations include the following topic areas:

1. Telling tales: using stories to remake energy policy. 

Based on Janda, K. B., & M. Topouzi. 2015.  “Telling tales: using stories to remake energy policy.” Building Research & Information 43 (4):516-533.

This paper argues that building performance will always be lower than promised if we continue to tell “hero stories” about technologies in buildings rather than addressing issues over time at the interface of technologies and people.  It identifies and develops two additional narratives–“learning stories” and “caring stories”– that could improve environmental performance over time through innovative combinations of social engagement, institutional support, and technological development.  (Further abstract in linked paper)

2. A WICKED approach to energy strategies in retail organisations.

Based on Janda, K. B., J. Patrick, R. Granell, S. Bright, D. Wallom, & R. Layberry. 2015. “A WICKED approach to retail sector energy management.”  ECEEE Summer Study,  1-6 June 2015  (Toulon/Hyères, France) pp. 185-195.

This talk delivers early results of a ground-breaking, interdisciplinary UK research-council funded project called “WICKED” that looks at energy strategy development in the UK retail sector using 3 levels of analysis (top-down big data; middle-out organizational analysis; bottom up building level data collection).  It draws together expertise from applied maths, computing, engineering, law, environmental monitoring, and organization studies. Further abstract in the linked paper, and additional information is in the following website http://www.energy.ox.ac.uk/wicked/ (please note, it is a website within a website. Oxford Energy navigation buttons are at the top of the page; WICKED navigation buttons are at the bottom of the page)

3. Change from Within? Carbon Management in Commercial Real Estate.

Based on Strachan, M. E., K. B. Janda, & B. McKeown. 2015. “Change from Within? Carbon Management in Commercial Real Estate.”   ECEEE Summer Study,  1-6 June 2015  (Toulon/Hyères, France).  pp. 101-111.

This presentation looks at possibilities for a new era of energy management at the portfolio level in commercial real estate, based on current levels of data availability, “middle actor” involvement, and software solutions. It argues that further work on data availability and sharing will be needed to support additional progress towards better energy management. (Further abstract in attached paper).

4. Evolution of Greener Leasing Practices in Australia and England

Based on S. Bright et al, The Evolution of Greener Leasing Practices in Australia and England, this talk discusses results of four cases studies on “green” leases in Australian and UK retail and office sectors.

Kathryn is also happy to give talks based on other research topics.  Links to additional papers and research topics are available here: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/people/jandakaty.php

For example, she has also developed social change theories about the role of middle actors and the potential for developing deeper understanding of building science in the general population:

  • Janda, K. B., & Y. Parag. 2013. “A Middle-Out Approach for Improving Energy Performance in Buildings.” Building Research & Information 41 (1):39-50. Abstract: This paper introduces a  ‘middle-out’ perspective to investigate potential roles for professionals and practitioners in creating societal change. Social and technological innovations are commonly seen as either being induced from the ‘top-down’ or evolving from the ‘bottom-up.’ Instead, a ‘middle-out’ perspective focuses on agents of change that are located in the middle, between the top and the bottom. This perspective shows that middle actors can affect change in several different directions: upstream, downstream and sideways. By linking the top and bottom more explicitly, this approach is both an alternative and complementary to ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ efforts to implementing low carbon innovations and practices in society. The paper explores on particular kind of ‘middle’ in the built environment: the role of building professionals to encourage (or discourage) societal change. Focusing on the demand side of the energy system, it uses case studies of building professionals in the domestic and non-domestic sectors to emphasize the qualities of these middle agents as enablers/disablers, mediators and aggregators. The paper sketches policy implications from the ‘middle-out’ perspective and comments on the near and long-term relationship between building professions and building performance.
  • Janda, K. B. 2011. “Buildings Don’t Use Energy: People Do.” Architectural Science Review 54 (1):15-22. Abstract: Reducing energy use in buildings is a critical component of meeting carbon reduction commitments. There are several ways of accomplishing this goal, each of which emphasizes actions by a different set of stakeholders. This article argues that building users play a critical but poorly understood and often overlooked role in the built environment. In the face of climate change, the article finds purely architectural solutions, such as those proposed by the Architecture 2030 Challenge, to be necessary but not sufficient to achieve climate change mitigation targets. To fully address the task ahead, it argues that architects need to develop their professional expertise to improve buildings and seek ways of integrating user involvement in building performance. Moreover, from a professional standpoint, this paper suggests it may be wise for architects to claim a leadership role in this area before another group of building professionals does.


Kathryn B. Janda is an interdisciplinary, problem-based scholar and senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on how organizations and professions (re)design, use, own, and manage non-domestic buildings.  Her approach builds on literature in technological innovation, organizational decision-making, and energy policy. Her work has been supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, Electricité de France, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the World Bank.  She currently serves as an advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

She earned undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and English literature from Brown University (USA) and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.  She has worked in the Energy Analysis Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA) and served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Environmental Policy Fellow at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Prior to her position at Oxford, she served as an assistant professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College (Ohio, USA), where she taught courses on energy production and consumption; interdisciplinary building analysis; environment and society; a practicum on ecological design; and qualitative research methods.

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