Working Group on Built-in Renewable Energy [2012-2013]

The 2012 Working Group of the Observatory for Responsible Innovation addresses the interface between renewable energy and architecture. The specific topic is built-in renewable energy, which refers to the integration of renewable energy production into the building itself. The Working Group exploresdifferent ways of conceptualizing such innovations as socially responsible or not within the construction sector and the energy sectoras well as in national policies.To bring out different viewpoints, the Working Group is constituted of experts with a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and organizational attachments, such as architects, engineers, entrepreneurs, energy suppliers, researchers, and policy makers.

A key objective of the 2012 Working Group is to clarify the implicit conceptions of social responsibility that underpin innovative solutions to local energy production. The Working Group explores various images of what the future holds, or could hold, in terms of local energy production. This exploration includes an examination of the technological potential, the projected financial costs, and the conceptualization of social responsibility that inform imagined scenarios of built-in renewable energy production.

In particular, the Working Group investigates instruments that are being developed or employed to measure the technical, financial and/or social value of future energy production in companies and national policies. Attention is devoted principally to instruments that pertain to architectural design templates and through which the future can be acted upon. Theambition of the Working Group is to make explicit how policymakers, private companies and individuals turn imagined scenarios for local energy production into concrete proposals whose technological potential, cost-efficiency,and social responsibility can be calculated and compared. The Working Group aims ultimately to make visible how political choices of (or against) built-in renewable energy production come into existence.

This Working Group on built-in renewable energy in architecture is constituted by a core group of participants with various backgrounds and expertise. A wider network of associated members contribute to their reflection.

Notable achievements of this working group include the organization of an international debate held on 12 November 2012 at Mines ParisTech, a series of policy recomendations available online as issue 3, volume 2 of Debating Innovation and, finally, the publication of Nouvelles énergies pour la ville du futur, a book edited by Eva Boxembaum, Brice Laurent and Annalivia Lacoste and available from Presses des Mines.