Causal modeling for understanding of the energy demand on the residential and service sectors

Causal modeling for understanding of the energy demand on the residential and service sectors
Engineering for the Information Society and Sustainable Development
DeustoTech is a research institute at Faculty of Engineering of the University of Deusto for applied and basic research for the development of novel ICTs applications. Deustotech focuses its activity around TRLs 2-7 and articulates it into different applied fields: Health, Industry, Mobility, Energy and Society. It channels advanced ICT activity into business and society through research, development, innovation and knowledge transfer.
The candidate would be integrated in a highly multidisciplinary research group. As such it is of utter importance the communication skills and their ability to understand the different perspectives that the research topic have. Moreover, experience in one (or more) of the following fields in needed:

* Development of causal models, bayesian networks, causal inference or path analysis
* Background on behavioral sciences and/or behavioral [chain] modeling
* Behavioral economics or structural equations.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities (SOC)
  • Economic Sciences (ECO)
  • Information Sciences and Engineering (ENG)
The transformation of the electrical grid needed to fulfill the decarbonization objectives set by the EU commision not only is one of the most complex technical challenges of our times but also will carry out a major social transformation. Nevertheless, the role that human beings play has not been sufficiently studied. The aim of this open position is to find an student with a strong background in behavioural sciences and causal modeling to formally define which are the determinants that people have in relation to the use of energy within households and in tertiary buildings and what are the drivers for pro-environmental behaviour change. Specifically, the objectives are:

* Create user models according to socioeconomics, behavioural and cultural profiles/traits.
* Define and establish which are the most prominent behaviour change models in the context of energy use (e.g. TPB, VBM, Transtheoretical model, etc.).
* Take into account the most important determinants as well as external variables (such as weather, costs, source of energy, etc.) to create an holistic model of behaviour.
* Interventions design and simulation according to frameworks such as Theoretical domains or Behaviour Change Wheel, EAST, BASIC in order to understand how these interventions may impact over drivers and barriers defined previously (including policy, gamification, nudging and/or persuasion).
* Trying to define an optimized/tailored intervention strategy to foster social transformation.


M.A.Cuesta, T.Castillo-Calzadilla & C.E.Borges (2020). A critical analysis on hybrid renewable energy modeling tools: An emerging opportunity to include social indicators to optimise systems in small communities. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 122. DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2019.109691

Casado-Mansilla, D., Tsolakis, A. C., Borges, C. E., Kamara-Esteban, O., Krinidis, S., Avila, J. M., … & López-de-Ipiña, D. (2020). Socio-Economic Effect on ICT-Based Persuasive Interventions Towards Energy Efficiency in Tertiary Buildings. Energies, 13(7), 1700.

Sánchez-Corcuera, R., Casado-Mansilla, D., Borges, C. E., & López-de-Ipiña, D. (2020). Persuasion-based recommender system ensambling matrix factorisation and active learning models. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 1-11.

Irizar-Arrieta, A., Casado-Mansilla, D., Garaizar, P., López-de-Ipiña, D., & Retegi, A. (2020). User perspectives in the design of interactive everyday objects for sustainable behaviour. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 137, 102393.

Diego Casado-Mansilla, Juan López-de-Armentia, Daniela Ventura, Pablo Garaizar & Diego López-de-Ipiña. (2016) Embedding intelligent eco-aware systems within everyday things to increase people’s energy awareness. Soft Computing 20.5 1695-1711. DOI: 10.1007/s00500-015-1751-0
H2020 – WHY (Climbing the causality ladder to understand and project the energy demand of the residential sector). GA 891943. UDEUSTO will coordinate the project and lead the development of the Causal Model of the energy demand at households.

H2020 – GREENSOUL (Persuasive Eco-awareness for User Engagement through Networked Data Devices). GA 696129. UDEUSTO develops and tests a set of persuasion mechanisms to reduce the energy consumption in public buildings.

H2020 – PARITY (Pro-sumer AwaRe, Transactive Markets for Valorization of Distributed flexibilITY enabled by Smart Energy Contracts) – GA 864319. UDEUSTO will develop a socioeconomic model of the barriers that hinder the participation in flexibility markets.

Private Contract / HAZITEK call – DESTRANS (Soluciones para la descarbonización del sector transporte en entornos urbanos sostenibles mediante modelos causales de comportamiento). UDEUSTO will develop a causal model for the transport needs to be introduced in a multi agent platform.

H2020 – WASTE WASTE4THINK (Moving towards Life Cycle Thinking by Integrating Advanced Waste Management Systems) – GA 688995. UDEUSTO coordinates this project with the main objective of moving forward the current waste management practices into a circular economy motto, demonstrating the value of integrating and validating several eco-innovative solutions that cover all the waste value chain.


The development of the Causal Model needs to bring together a range of different contributions from different disciplines. Next, a list with the most relevant interdisciplinary connections will be explained.

* Energy consumption is heavily influenced by a wide range of aspects: cultural, physiologic, leisure, social, behavioral, economic, technical, education, status, etc. All of these aspects will be included consistently in the model. In order to capture and curate such a wide range of knowledge, a group methodology based on the Delphi Method or similar consensus-based methods will be carried on.
* Moreover, the previous collaboration should go beyond the modeling stage as appropriate information and data to complete the Causal Diagram should be collected. In this regard, Social Scientists and Internet of Things experts will collaborate with the student to select the best validated instruments (surveys and devices) to collect any data that might be needed for validating the whole or parts of the model.
* Then, Computer Science researchers will work on the structuration and consolidation of the information used and will also consistently integrate the Causal Diagram and the data collected to build the Causal Model.
* Finally, Ethics and Policy Making could also be consulted to assess the results of the Use Case.

All this expertise is already accessible in the framework of some of the projects already ongoing where the two scientist in charge of this proposal are participating
Yes, a codirection is envisaged and needed. Depending on the candidate profile, different co-directors will be looked for. For example, a candidate with a strong psychological background would not need a co-director on that field and instead a more technical – engineering co-director profile will be looked for. The objective is that between the three persons involved (the candidate, and the two co-directors) all scientific disciplines needed to carry out this thesis are covered.
The candidate will work on a highly interdisciplinary group where all the previous knowledge will be worked on. The candidate will collaborate with researchers of different backgrounds (mathematicians, engineers, experts in behaviour change, interface designers, Internet of Things, and social scientists) in order to achieve the objectives of the project.

Aligned with the 2030 Agenda, the Horizon Europe missions and goals and the Basque Country Smart Specialisation Strategy, DEUSTO research blends competitiveness, innovation and technology to tackle challenges for communities, companies and public bodies in the region. Ageing and Wellbeing; Cultural and Creative Industries and Cities; Gender; Social Justice and Inclusion and Strengthening Participation are the focus of the 5 Interdisciplinary Research Platforms. Besides, advanced research units contribute to generate knowledge and innovative solutions in the fields of efficient and clean Energy, Industry 4.0 (advanced manufacturing, data analytics…), Health and Territory.


The topic is a cross-sectional topic covered in several of the energy efficiency calls. The GreenDeal call has an entire topic for this problem and several calls are already considered on Horizon Europe draft programs. Moreover, the 6th SDG is highly related to this research area as understanding the demand will contribute to fostering the correct policies to improve the accessibility to energy and more importantly, to clean energy. Finally, there is a long list of European policies related to the energy demand. Prosumers are a central pillar of the new energy system, nevertheless, currently models of prosumers behaviours are still in their infancy and the existing literature is still scarce and fragmented. In this sense, not only more research is needed but also with a strong interdisciplinary approach in order to fully understand this central piece of the energy sector.
Yes, as with the codirection, depending on the candidate profile and interest, an international codirection or co-tutelle could be considered following the same objective as with the co-direction.


The Smart Specialisation Strategy from the Euskadi Region has as one of its pillars the Energy Sector. In particular, there are a wide range of strong enterprises (both big and SME) in the energy sector. In particular, the participant have relations with several of the stakeholders of the region involved in the energy chain: *DSO (Iberdrola) *ESCOs (Enara) *Electric equipment (Ikor, Ingeteam) *Energy cooperative / grassroots movements (GOINER) *Smart home (Wattio) *Policy makers (EVE, Consejería de Vivienda). In fact, in the framework of all H2020 projects where the scientists in charge are participating (WHY, PARITY, AURORAL and ATELIER) there are more than 100 international stakeholders from different sectors among its partners and advisory boards that could collaborate with the student.

Deusto Research works closely with more than 1250 organisations (public administration, business, non-profit organisations, education and training institutions, technology centres, etc.) in areas such as health, urban development, gender, social justice and inclusion, democratic participation, regional competitiveness and energy. Since 2014 DEUSTO has been involved in 89 international research projects and worked with more than 770 partner organisations. From data collection to the implementation and piloting phases, stakeholders have an active role throughout the research project life cycle.


The results of the project will have several impacts beyond the scientific considerations. On the one hand, a use case should be carried out in the thesis where the models developed should be tested. In this use case, the objective is to improve the interventions to foster the energy transition in a region or city. In this case, direct use by the relevant policy makers of the results should be immediate. On the other hand, the enterprise that is co-funding the thesis would like to include in its portfolio of solutions this model to optimize policy interventions. This one, they could carry out this kind of assessment on the consultancy works for public authorities.

There are two target groups for this thesis: the company that is co-funding the project and relevant public authorities. For the first target group, capacity building actions at the company premises to deliver the end results will be carried out. This one, the student ensures that their results could be used in the company. On the other hand, for policy makers the best strategy is following the international commercial network of the company that co-fund the thesis.

Deusto Research pursues societal impact that goes beyond academia focusing on the transformation of today’s society, leading to fairer and more diverse societies, where inclusive social development and welfare are enhanced.


This research will be the first step in the development of products that will ease the deployment of products and policies to improve both the energy efficiency and the participation on demand response actions for the private and public settings (e.g. workplace). In fact, after the models creation, different interventions would be designed and tested in order to confirm the validity of the results. It is expected that several of the interventions or devices proposed could achieve results good enough to reach the market (in the case of both devices or interventions), or being able to establish policy recommendations.

DEUSTO research internationalisation strategy pursues innovation through the participation in international research and innovation initiatives (H2020 projects, Innovation Radar)


Inclusion is an underlying principle of the 6i Dirs project. The leadership vocation of the University of Deusto goes hand in hand with its aspiration to excellence and quality and a firm commitment to social justice and inclusion. The Interdisciplinary Platform on Social Justice and Inclusion articulates interdisciplinary collaborations and channel research efforts for contributing to social justice and more inclusive and fairer societies.
Deusto recognises gender equality as a key driver for sustainable development and inclusive growth across regions, and believes that equality of academic opportunity for women is key. The Interdisciplinary Research Platform on Gender is a dynamic vehicle that teams up experts from different areas of knowledge with the dual purpose of fostering collaboration and integrating existing expertise to address society’s emerging challenges on gender issues. (
Moreover, to seek real inclusion for people with specific support needs, the 6i Dirs project ensures equal rights and opportunities with respect to access to the programme and the acquisition of the skills expected to achieve the PhD and enhance their career development and future employability. All vacancies on the Euraxess EU portal bear the Science4refugee logo to encourage refugees to apply for them. Furthermore, DEUSTO is a partner of the Scholars At Risk Network (SAR), which offers safety to scholars facing grave threats.