Professor Gordon Walker

Professor Gordon Walker


LEC Building
Lancaster University
United Kingdom

+44 (0)1524 510256

Research Interests

My research interests have moved around over time but have centred on the social, spatial and normative dimensions of environment, sustainability and risk issues.  

I am currently focussing predominantly on questions of energy demand in my new role as Co-Director of the RCUK funded DEMAND Centre (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand). The DEMAND Centre takes a distinctive approach to end use energy demand, recognising that energy is not used for its own sake but as part of accomplishing social practices at home, at work and in moving around. I am specifically involved in projects within the Centre's research programme on how energy is related to notions of need, rights and justice; on the work of energy managers using energy management and control systems; on the dynamics of energy use in everyday life; and integration activities across the consortium of academic and non-academic partners.   

I continue however to be interested and engaged in areas of research and writing that have previously preoccupied me. These include: 

  • environmental justice theory, concepts and methods and the investigation of inequalities in the distribution of environmental goods and bads. See the book Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics (Routledge 2012) and environmental justice web pages for outputs from previous projects;
  • sustainability, social practice, and transitions, working with Elizabeth Shove and others in the Sustainable Practices Research Group (ESRC, DEFRA and Scottish Government) on the dynamics of air conditioning and the imagined future lives of those living in zero carbon housing, and writing more generally about socio-technical transitions and practice;
  • energy poverty, vulnerability and thermal comfort. See EPSRC projects Conditioning Demand: Older People, Diversity and Thermal Experience and InCluESEV the 'Interdisciplinary Cluster on Energy Systems, Equity and Vulnerability' - this has led to the edited book Energy Justice in a Changing Climate (Zed, 2013)
  • the social dimensions of sustainable energy technologies and public engagement with community energy projects. See the ESRC funded 'Beyond Nimbysim' and Community Energy Initiatives projects);
  • risk governance, vulnerability and resilience related to floods and technological risks. See the Hull Flood project and EU projects CAPHAZ, SCENARIO and ARMONIA


Selected Publications

Transnational transitions: the diffusion and integration of mechanical cooling

Shove, E., Walker, G. & Brown, S. 05/2014 In : Urban Studies. 51, 7, p. 1506-1519 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics

Walker, G. 2012 London: Routledge. 256 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Gordon Walker's Publications

Gordon Walker's Projects


The DEMAND Centre is funded by the ESRC/EPSRC with support from ECLEER (EDF R&D), Transport for London and the International Energy Agency. The centre started work in May 2013 and will continue until 2018. The Centre is Co-Directed by Professor Elizabeth Shove and Professor Gordon Walker.

The DEMAND Centre (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand) takes a distinctive approach to end use energy demand, recognising that energy is not used for its own sake but as part of accomplishing social practices at home, at work and in moving around. In essence the Centre focuses on what energy is for. This approach generates an ambitious research agenda that is crucial for organisations involved in demand management and in radically reconfiguring infrastructures, buildings and transport systems in line with greenhouse gas emissions targets. While greater efficiency is important, the trend is often towards more resource intensive standards of comfort, convenience and speed. The problem is that we lack a sophisticated understanding of how these trends take hold and of the underlying dynamics of demand itself. In focusing on how demand is made and met, the Centre will examine changing patterns in mobility and building-related energy use and take forward a wide-ranging agenda for future research and policy.


The goal of this project is to understand the diversity and dynamics of thermal experiences in an ageing society and the implications for current and future energy consumption. The project team is investigating the issue of energy consumption as a socio-technical phenomenon by unpacking the social and material dimensions of energy and carbon challenges related to 'thermal experience' in domestic settings in the UK and France. The empirical research follows two key forms of future change: the demographic trend of an ageing society and the development of energy-efficient technologies. Our aim is not only to understand the implications of these two key dimensions of social and technological change, but also to detect potential synergies, gaps, and mismatches between them as they relate to residential thermal experience.


The Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG) comprises seven research projects and four Fellowships conducted across eight UK universities.The SPRG is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council, the Scottish Government and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. There is growing recognition of the need for fresh ways of framing problems of climate change, consumption and demand, and for forms of intervention capable of catalysing entrenched habits and practices and of doing so quickly and on a big scale. The SPRG takes a distinctive approach, focusing on social practices and how they evolve over time.