The transition towards Sustainable Development in Ireland demands behaviour change at individual, household, community, business and policy levels. In their Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015 “Working with others for a Better Environment”, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency suggest that they will enable a low-carbon and resource-efficient Ireland by working “with others to build awareness and behavioural changes needed in our homes, communities, businesses and at a policy level” (EPA 2013)


There is a need to build upon and augment the existing research on behaviour change for sustainable development with in-depth insights into behaviours and practices within the context of where people live and work. There is also a need to find innovative ways to engage the local community and businesses in the co-design of interventions in order to foster participation, ownership and sustained engagement.

While the research will be focused on implementation it will produce academic outputs in the form of new insights into policy experimentation in the context of environmental and sustainability policy.

Aims of the research

  • Develop an overarching methodology and process that the EPA can implement in future programme and service development and evaluation (e.g. unit or lab)
  • Conduct participatory action research within communities and with community groups – potentially working with case study communities from first phase of Open Practices.
  • To bring together a multi-disciplinary team of EPA staff and stakeholders (e.g. departmental staff) with a shared interest in exploring and applying co-creation, design methodologies and behavioural insights in service design
  • To explore the scope of designing a new intervention or service related to sustainable communities in Ireland. This will involve co-creation with EPA staff and clarify existing EPA resources, programme commitments, rule and regulations, staff capacity
  • To organise a series of capacity building workshops that explore different perspectives on designing public services and behavioural insights

Research questions

  • How can the EPA co-create interventions with services providers (e.g. CTC) and service users (e.g. communities) in order to maximise impact?
  • How can the EPA build on existing successful interventions and services while systematically applying design and innovation methods alongside behavioural insights?
  • Should or could the EPA develop an “innovation unit” or “policy lab” that supports the existing work of staff alongside the future development and evaluation of services and interventions? e.g. a physical innovation space, virtual teams
  • How can the EPA can apply design methods and behavioural insights when developing new services and interventions?


Simon O'Rafferty
Dr. Simon O’Rafferty

Simon is a Research Fellow and the lead researcher.

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Adam De Eyto
Dr. Adam De Eyto

Adam is Head of UL School of Design

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Adam De Eyto
Dr. Muireann Mc Mahon

Muireann is Course Director for the BSc.Product Design.

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