Updated October 2020


SONNET is a research project examining the diversity, processes, contributions and future potentials of social innovations in the energy sector (SIE). As part of the work, we are co-creating a city lab in each SONNET city (Antwerp, Basel, Bristol, Grenoble, Mannheim, and Warsaw) to collectively initiate and observe current and unfolding social innovation in energy processes and their enabling and impeding factors. We are interested in examining how social innovation activities enable sustainable energy transitions related to socio-economic, socio-cultural and socio-political issues i.e. making the energy transition more secure, affordable and sustainable. 

The Bristol City Lab partners are Bristol City Council, the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex and Bristol Energy Network.


Participants will be 1) community building managers and 2) communities connected to a subset of community buildings. Participation from all those taking part is very much valued but taking part is entirely voluntary. Participants are free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason. If you would like to find out more or discuss any aspect of the project prior to deciding whether to participate, please contact  projects@bristolenergynetwork.org in the first instance.

Data collection, processing and security

Data collection will consist of surveys undertaken with 2 distinct groups: 

  1. Building managers to gain insights around the community buildings they manage (first phase)
  2. Citizens living within communities to ascertain views around community buildings (second phase)

The nature of processing is to collect and analyse information and opinions from building managers and citizens. Some of this data may be sought from existing online third-party sources e.g. EPC register. The data will be recorded primarily via online survey methods, supplemented by some paper-based face to face or telephone completions. These paper-based surveys will then be digitally transcribed into the existing online survey package.

Access to the dataset will be firstly from the survey package cloud storage and secondly through a secure password protected folder on BCC servers. BEN will ensure secure storage of the downloaded dataset for the purposes of analysis and reporting. Data will then be summarised within evaluation reports and no personal data will be visible at this point. Anonymised research data will be deleted 10 years after the project ends to conform to funder requirements. Personal data will be deleted at the end of the project in June 2022. 

Data collected through the surveys will only be available to the research team. Responses will be analysed and presented in a way that does not allow someone to trace the responses back to an individual when discussing broad issues relating to community buildings in Bristol. Please note, in relation to building manager surveys, that survey information will be used to tailor building surveys to your needs and thus information will necessarily be linked to each individual building response at this stage of the project. 

This research has been approved by the Social Sciences & Arts Cross-Schools Research Ethics Committee (C-REC) of the University of Sussex and conforms to the requirements of Bristol City Council’s data protection policies.

BEN will treat all data collected in accordance with its Data Protection Policy (available on request) and ensure that all ethics and data requirements of Bristol City Council and the University of Sussex are met as outlined above.



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