Modelling a school as a socio-technical system for the purpose of managing greenhouse gas emissions

Rachel A J Freeman, Mike Yearworth, Chris W Preist

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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There is a need to better understand the dynamic interactions between people, organisation, and physical infrastructure when working to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) emissions and utility bills in organisations. This paper presents a Systems Dynamics approach to the problem that combines both the social and the technical factors affecting a building’s carbon emissions over time in a single model. Through assigning variables to represent both the soft aspects of the building system – organisational culture, roles and responsibilities, energy management attitudes, etc.; and the physical infrastructure – rated power of plug load equipment, building services equipment, building fabric, etc. – a SD model can indicate which factors are most important. We anticipate there will be several long-term benefits from the use of this model, namely: 1) helping to bring clarity to a very messy problem, 2) providing a picture of how carbon and energy issues change over time, 3) getting people within an organisation to incorporate carbon management into their everyday work life. GHG emissions are often overlooked in organisations but we believe that proactive, ongoing carbon management should be as important as meeting legal or health and safety requirements and that it is essential for an organisation’s long-term resilience.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBristol University
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2012

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Systems Centre at the University of Bristol, UK; the EPSRC funded Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems (Grant EP/G037353/1); and Sustain Limited, Bristol, UK.


  • sustainability
  • carbon reduction in schools
  • organisational behaviour
  • strategy
  • consultancy
  • model-based management


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