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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Energy in place : a case study and mental models analysis of engagement in community scale energy planning Salter, Jonathan


This dissertation has two primary research threads. The first is a case study analysis of three community scale energy planning engagement processes in British Columbia, including community energy and greenhouse gas emissions workshops conducted in the City of Vancouver as part of the Greenest City Conversations Project (GCCP), stakeholder workshops as part of the City of Victoria’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP), and public workshops conducted in the City of Revelstoke that investigated the relationships between urban form, energy, and climate change. The second research thread investigates the use of a mental models methodology for evaluating the impacts of engagement on the workshop participants. The research first examines the literature on public engagement in sustainability planning, and the literature on mental models methodologies, developing the rationale for a mental models approach to evaluating engagement in community scale energy planning. The research then turns to the development and conduct of the mental models methodology, starting with initial practitioner interviews to describe the community scale energy domain. These interviews revealed key themes about energy and related subjects that contributed to both the GCCP workshop development, and the construction of the dissertation’s primary research instrument, the pre and post workshop questionnaires. Workshop participants existing mental models of energy are then analyzed based on the results of the pre-workshop questionnaires, using a Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) and hierarchical clustering procedure. This analysis revealed the presence of six primary clusters of energy mental models amongst participants that were used to organize and interpret subsequent research results. The final phase of the research combines a case study and mental models evaluation of the three community energy engagement processes, beginning with the dissertation’s primary research vehicle (the GCCP workshops) and then comparing the three engagement processes for their impacts on participants’ mental models, and for the constituent case study components that defined the workshops. The final chapter then turns to a discussion of the implications of the research for future mental models, energy planning, and public engagement research and practice.

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