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Why We Need a Human-Centric Approach When Transitioning to Renewables

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

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  • Jul 22, 2022
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The world now recognizes the need to transition to renewable energy resources. Currently, businesses and governments are looking for more environmentally friendly ways to reduce their carbon footprint and preserve the world.

However, it’s easy for people to forget that no matter how brilliant the idea is to transition a new aspect of life to renewable energy, it won’t be a worthy investment if the customers and citizens are not yet compatible with it.

Renewable energy needs to put the everyday person first when the industry makes efforts to use renewables — or it will waste time and money.

What Does Human-Centric Mean?

Taking a human-centric approach means putting yourself in the shoes of someone living their everyday life and anticipating the possible challenges they could face when implementing a new concept or idea.

If you come up with a great idea or concept to replace an item with a more energy-efficient solution, you may not think of the external obstacles humans will face when implementing them. Keeping those issues in mind will help you make transitions that stick.

Why the Transition to Renewables Needs It

Renewable energy professionals don’t have bad intentions when implementing new ideas to help the environment, but what looks good on paper doesn’t always work on the streets.

Perhaps the Segway was the most known failure to implement renewable energy in daily life. These weight-controlled standing scooters were a massive innovation in the 2000s, with the idea that people could use them instead of walking or riding a bike, making green transportation a reality for everyone.

They sounded great and people loved testing them out, but they were not practical for society at the time. People didn’t know where and where not to ride them. It was also impossible to keep them out for a lengthy period without a charger, which cities were not providing. Thankfully, the transition to electric cars is going smoother.

The failure of the segway is a reminder that unless professionals think everything through on a human level, the fanciest gadget could be a waste of time and energy.

Reimaging the Workforce

When you think about transitioning to clean energy, you need to think about the people that help run your day-to-day operations and come up with solutions that cater to their needs.

For example, when introducing energy-efficient office lighting, you must consider the difference between implementing light emitting diode (LED) bulbs or adding more natural light to the building.

Though people once believed it, LED lights aren’t significantly harmful to humans. However, natural light greatly benefits employees by helping regulate their circadian rhythm and overall mood. This makes incorporating natural light when possible a human-centric choice.

You must also consider the workers installing and implementing energy equipment. Investing in good training programs and providing fair compensation allows for more job opportunities, creating a positive environment around positive change.

Combating Inequality

Though switching to renewable resources is thought to bridge the income gap, research shows it could contribute to greater inequality in the world if you do not implement it correctly.

While professionals know the benefits of implementing renewable energy resources for the environment, they may overlook how the cost of such resources affects our communities. Suppose companies don’t focus on making pricing manageable and prioritize access to these resources. In that case, they’re doing a great disservice to the people who will end up in unkempt conditions due to their inability to keep up with the transition to renewables through no fault of their own.

There are efforts to try and bridge the gap between those able to afford new resources and those who cannot, including specialized programs to provide free energy resources to positive energy districts. These provide a localized approach to renewable energy implementation.

Through each decision renewable energy professionals make, they need to consider the cost it has to everyone, not just those at an income level that can afford the resources. They cannot allow those with fewer resources to become isolated by societal and financial pressure to switch to renewables.

Putting Humans First When Moving to Renewable Energy

The point of transitioning to clean energy is so everyone can help the environment and preserve the planet for future generations. The reality is you can’t achieve those goals without putting everyday people at the center of the transition.

When you take a human-centric approach to renewable energy, you are paving the way for everyone to have a healthier, greener future.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 22, 2022

This is also just a good lesson for any new technology rollout. Humans can be unpredictable so we have to think about the human/behavioral side of everything!

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