Sustainable Development and Energy Systems Design: Issues and Perspectives from a Francophone Activity–Centered Approach
Human Factors for Sustainability
Taylor & Francis
Thanks to several publications these last decades, sustainable development is now an official and legitimate object of intervention and research in human factors and ergonomics. Sustainable development challenges the theoretical and methodologi- cal foundations of the discipline (Dekker, Hancock, & Wilkin, 2013), as well as our ability to explain how we contribute to it. Different theoretical perspectives have emerged or reemerged over the last decade, such as ergoecology (Garcia-Acosta, Saravia Pinilla, Romero Larrahondo, & Lange Morales, 2014), human factors and sustainable development (Zink & Fischer, 2013), and the sustainable system of sys- tems (Thatcher & Yeow, 2016), for example. These perspectives raise many issues and set challenges to human factors and ergonomics concerning our ability to integrate (a) ecological-geological factors (Garcia-Acosta et al., 2014) and/or natu- ral resources and systems (Thatcher, 2013), (b) multidisciplinarity (Garcia-Acosta et al., 2014; Thatcher & Yeow, 2016), or (c) complexity, to name but a few. There is now a need for more empirical validation and refinement (Thatcher & Yeow, 2016). This chapter proposes a discussion with these approaches based on recent results from a francophone activity-centered ergonomics (FACE) approach in the energy domain and considers the following questions: What would the application of these approaches of sustainability (SSoS, etc.) involve for human factors and ergonomics within the domain of energy? How could our approach contribute or adapt? What could be learned from this meeting of approaches? After a review of time and organization issues in sustainability and FACE approaches, the next section presents the evolution of our research program since the 1980s. The chapter then presents an enactive and situated perspective on the lived experience of activity as the core of our approach and how it articulates with systemic and complex systems approaches. We move on to expose the main results of two recent projects: Smart Electric Lyon and SMACH (a Multi-Agent Simulation of Human ACtivity and electricity load curves). The results demonstrate that if we are to design a more sustainable and efficient energy grid, there is a necessity to focus our research effort and interventions on (a) year-long evolution of user experience; (b) on team, organizational, and interorganizational processes; (c) on the development of methods and tools for multiple stakeholders; and finally (d) on the articulation of enactive approaches to lived experience, human activity, and complex systems. From there we discuss further perspectives: for our own research program, enlarging our approach to the ecological level (Thatcher & Yeow, 2016); for human factors and ergonomics in the energy domain, focusing more on the multiple levels of organization and issues that sustainability approaches pointed to; and for sustainability approaches, taking account of the local conditions of emergence of human activity and experience.