Christina Bremer — Researcher Highlight

Updated: Nov 8

Christina Bremer is a doctoral student within the Socio-Digital Sustainability Group and Computing and Communications Department at Lancaster University in the UK. She has a background in cognitive science and human-computer interaction (HCI) and a keen interest in sustainability. Her research addresses the environmental and social impacts of technology, with a particular focus on how behavioral changes and energy efficiency technologies in buildings may or may not reduce energy consumption. She examines factors that have the potential to impact anticipated energy savings, such as rebound effects and building baseload, i.e. the minimum amount of power a building consumes, even when unoccupied.

In her dissertation, Bremer analyzes the views of experts regarding the energy savings potential of behavioral changes and energy efficiency technologies in buildings. She observes a form of technological optimism, which she explores in her 2022 workshop paper, “Efficiency Technology as a Political Act.” Bremer analyzes real-world factors that impact the true energy savings potential of interventions in order to develop more accurate estimation models. As part of her analysis, she looks at energy consumption data from the Lancaster University campus before and during the COVID-19 lockdown periods. These periods of lockdown present a unique opportunity to investigate the maximum possible energy savings from behavioral interventions given how few people were on campus at the time. Her analysis indicates that existing energy efficiency and behavioral change interventions are limited in terms of their climate change mitigation potential. More fundamental and systemic changes will be required.

In 2022, Bremer published a review entitled, “Have We Taken On Too Much?: A Critical Review of the Sustainable HCI Landscape,” where she provided an assessment of the sustainable HCI subdiscipline. This work was presented at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. In the paper, she explores critiques that have been leveled against the field of sustainable HCI and how the research community has responded. She describes a shift in the field toward qualitative research that is diverse and holistic and away from efforts to address the climate crisis. In response to this shift, Bremer et al. propose a framework called Green Policy Informatics. This framework highlights how sustainable HCI researchers could apply their skills and expertise to climate change mitigation, dependent on the implementation of ambitious climate policies.

In addition to her research, Bremer supports efforts promoting gender equality in computing. While studying for her master’s degree at Uppsala University, she was the chair of the university’s Association for Computing Machinery’s Women in Computing (ACM-W) chapter. At Lancaster University, she has been an active member of the Athena Swan Committee. She has helped organize conferences, workshops, hackathons and social events to foster and celebrate diversity and works as a UX designer for a start-up that specializes in energy forecasting.