Integrated Energy Solutions: A Call for Inclusion of Non-Technical Factors




Energy Efficiency, Buildings, Integrated Solutions, Complexity


The central supposition put forward in this paper is that typical building-related energy efficiency measures do not automatically yield the looked-for large-scale environmental effects. Rather, many such measures entail two kinds of reductionism, in that they i) treat buildings detached from the larger system (such as the urban context), to which they belong; ii) concentrate on solutions, which are predominantly technological in nature. As a consequence, the complexity of the challenge may be neglected, along with other non-technical, yet potentially critical areas of concern. Such areas include, inter alia, economy, politics, policy, as well as societal and psychological circumstances. In this paper, we discuss a few typical instances of such reductionist stances to shed light on factors that impede their utility. Moreover, we highlight a few instances of systemic methods that have been suggested as having the potential to address complex problems in general, and the environmental implications of energy efficiency measures in the context of the built environment in particular.


Download data is not yet available.


A. Mahdavi, C. Berger, H. Amin, et al., "The Role of Occupants in Buildings’ Energy Performance Gap: Myth or Reality?" Sustainability, 13(6), 3146, 2021, doi:

F. Brandl, G. Heilmann, K. Kiesel, and A. Mahdavi, “The energy efficiency potential of communal living models”. Proceedings of Building Simulation 2011: 12th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Sydney, 14-16, 2011.

MA 18 (Stadtentwicklung und Stadtplanung), Stadt Wien, "Beiträge zur Stadtentwicklung: Lebens- & Wohnformen – Singles in Wien". Vienna, Austria, 2006.

C. Durett, "The Senior Cohousing Handbook – A Community Approach to Independent Living", New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, Canada, 2009.

UNDP, Human Development Reports, (accessed on 19 January 2024)

M. Behnisch, T. Krüger, and J. A. G. Jaeger, "Rapid rise in urban sprawl: Global hotspots and trends since 1990". PLOS Sustainability and Transformation 1(11): e0000034, 2022, doi:

S. Brody, "The Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Sprawling Development Patterns in the United States". Nature Education Knowledge 4(5):2., 2013.

FEANTSA, The Foundation Abbé Pierre, “An Overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe”, 2015,

A. Heydarian, C. Berger, A. Mahdavi, et al., "What drives our behaviours in buildings? A review on occupant interactions with building systems from the lens of behavioral theories". Building and Environment, 179, 106928, 2020, doi:

A. Mahdavi, "Explanatory stories of human perception and behavior in buildings". Building and Environment, 86, 2020, doi:

L. v. Bertalanffy, "General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications", George Braziller Inc., 2015, ISBN-10: ‎0807600156.

M. Waldrop, "Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos". New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

S. Kauffman, "At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity". Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN-10: 0195111303.

J. H. Holland, "Emergence: From Chaos To Order", Basic Books, 1999.

A. Battram, "Navigating Complexity: The Essential Guide to Complexity Theory in Business and Management". London: Spiro Press, 2002.

J. Bogg, and R. Geyer, "Complexity, Science, and Society", Radcliffe, 2007.

M. Bowen, "Family Therapy in Clinical Practice", Jason Aronson, Inc., 1993, ISBN-10: ‎ 1568210116.

A. Gitterman, C. Knight, and C. B. Germain, "The Life Model of Social Work Practice: Advances in Theory and Practice", Columbia University Press, 2021.

M. Uhl-Bien, and M. Russ. "Complexity Leadership: Conceptual Foundations". IAP, 2008, ISBN-10: 1593117957.




How to Cite

Mahdavi, A., Berger, C., & Ghiassi, N. (2024). Integrated Energy Solutions: A Call for Inclusion of Non-Technical Factors . International Sustainable Energy Conference - Proceedings, 1.

Conference Proceedings Volume


Solutions for Energy Efficiency