Visualizing Energy Participation: A Method for Practitioners and Researchers

Jorge Morales-Guerrero, Darshan Karwat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Through our analysis of the data generated by 12 communities in the Georgetown University Energy Prize—a US-wide effort to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions—we present a widely useable method to create visual maps of participation in energy projects. These maps, which show the breadth (who participated), depth (how), and objects (issue) of participation, can summarize large amounts of information on participation in just a few visualizations. For this study, these maps describe how communities organized to decrease the consumption of gas and electricity at the municipal and residential levels during the prize. Our results show that broader and deeper participation would not always lead to greater energy savings. Thus, instead of blindly aiming for higher participation to achieve better outcomes, results suggest that breadth, depth and objects of participation must be strategized based on the context and possibilities of the community, as well as the goals of the project. Maps do not only add transparency in decision-making processes by disclosing the who, how and on what of participation, but also facilitate the comparison of participatory efforts across process, communities and time. While the maps visualized participation that occurred in the past, the framework and method can be customized and used by governments, planners, community stakeholders, etc. in understanding, mapping and strategizing ongoing future participatory efforts in energy projects. Our instrument offers a flexible framework to plan, implement, evaluate, and research participatory interventions past, present and future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101496
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Energy Prizes
  • Evaluation
  • Mapping
  • Participation
  • Planning
  • Qualitative analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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