Photo by Mo's Portraits, Golden, Colorado

Dr. Barbara C. Farhar

Sustainable Energy Sociologist

For more than 25 years, Dr. Farhar has been a pioneer in the area of renewable and sustainable energy policy development, directing research on the interaction between technology and society and diffusion of innovations. As a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), she gained national recognition for her work on the human dimensions of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Today, she is an internationally recognized expert on the use and adoption of new energy technologies.

As interest in alternative energy expands worldwide research is helping builders, public utilities, and consumers make smart energy choices. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses, she empowers informed individual choice and helps communities develop smart and sustainable energy policies and practices.

As principal investigator on a multiyear comparative case study of a new development of high performance homes (built to save 30 to 50 percent of their energy use over conventionally built homes) Farhar found that owners became increasingly satisfied with their energy-efficient products as in-home displays enabled them to track their (decreased) energy consumption and related utility savings. The findings from this study are helping to reshape the conventional wisdom about consumer interest in and market values of homes with energy-saving features.

Dr. Farhar is a senior research associate at CU's Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute. She has produced more than 240 publications and papers on the relevance of behavioral analysis to energy policy, strategic planning for federal research, public opinion about energy and environmental policy, energy efficiency R&D planning, and technology transfer. She has been published in Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Science. She has served on the board of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society and the American Solar Energy Society.

Select Publications:

Colorado State of Mind Interview - RMPBS, Cynthia Hessin, Spring of 2012 on Energy, Gender and Poverty

B.C. Farhar, L.M. Hunter, T.M. Kirkland, and K.J. Tierney (University of Colorado-Boulder) "Community Response to Concentrating Solar Power in the San Luis Valley" 2010 NREL/SR-550-48041 June (pdf, 1.1M)

This report is about the social acceptance of utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) plants in the San Luis Valley, approximately 200 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado. The research focused on social factors that may facilitate and impede the adoption and implementation of CSP. During the winter of 2008-2009, interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 25 CSP-related stakeholders inside and outside the Valley. Interviews focused on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of siting a hypothetical 100-MW CSP facility in the Valley, the level of community support and opposition to CSP development, and related issues, such as transmission. State policy recommendations based on the findings include developing education programs for Valley residents, integrating Valley decision makers into an energy-water-land group, providing training for Valley decision makers, offering workforce training, evaluating models of taxation, and forming landholder energy associations. In addition, the SLV could become a laboratory for new approaches to CSP facility and transmission siting decision-making. The author recommends that outside stakeholders address community concerns and engage Valley residents in CSP decisions. Engaging the residents in CSP and transmission decisions, the author says, should take parallel significance with the investment in solar technology.

*Farhar, Barbara C. "Advancing a Market for Zero-Energy Homes." 2008. Solar Today. 22:1,Jan. Feb. pp. 24-29.
Full report | Solar Today Article (pdf 8Mb)

Dilling, Lisa and Barbara Farhar. 2007. "Making it Easy: Institutionalizing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy into Everyday Consumer Practice." In Creating a Climate for Change, Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 359-382. (link).

Farhar, Barbara C. and Colleen Fitzpatrick. 1989. Effects of Feedback on Residential Electricity Consumption: A Literature Review. Golden, CO: Solar Energy Research Institute.

* 2008 Recipient of APEX Award for Publication Excellence

Peer-Reviewed Publications


Events

The Human Dimension of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles in Boulder

PHV Study Public Release Presentation PDF (27.3M)


On the Path to Zero-Energy Homes

ZEH Continuum (pdf, 468k)


In the News

Denver Post Business Interview


Recently Published

“Advancing a Market for Zero-Energy Homes.” 2008. Solar Today, 22:1, Jan./Feb., pp. 24-29. pdf (8Mb)

Barbara Farhar and Timothy Coburn, “A New Market Paradigm for Zero-Energy Homes, A Comparative Case Study,” Environment/Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 50: 18-32. Jan./Feb. 2008.

A New Market Paradigm for Zero-Energy Homes: The Comparative San Diego Case Study
B. C. Farhar and T. C. Coburn, December 2006
Executive Summary (pdf, 105K)
Vol 1 (pdf, 5Mb)
Vol 2 (Appendixes) (pdf, 15.6Mb)

Abstract

We studied the first development of 306 high-performance homes by a production builder in the United States from 2001-2006 using a diffusion-of-innovations perspective. These homes were highly energy-efficient and came with solar water heaters standard. One- third came with 1.2 PV systems standard and buyers could opt for 1.2 or 2.4 PV systems in the remaining PV-eligible homes. The study focused on the builder experience, market response to high-performance homes, increases in home values over time, and the consumption and cost of electricity and gas in the high-performance and adjacent comparison homes. The comparison community of 103 homes was built by a different builder, but was of similar vintage, size, and price. Although built to title 24 standards then in effect, the comparison homes were offered with no special energy or solar features standard. The study addresses the home sales prices, resale prices, the uptake of optional PV systems, the demographics and other characteristics of the home buyers, the role of energy in home purchase decisions, satisfaction, policy preferences, and utility consumption and costs in these homes based on data provided by SDG&E. A new way of thinking about offering new ZEHs is discussed.


Recognition

Dr. Farhar received the Solar Pioneer Award at the World Renewable Energy Congress-IX in Florence, Italy, on August 23, 2006 for her work on increasing the understanding of the human dimensions of energy efficiency and renewable energy, including gender and energy and public opinion about energy.

The West Chamber named her an Outstanding Woman of Jefferson County on November 17, 2006 for her passion for life and her accomplishments in social scientific research and her international work.

She chairs the Technical Committee on Gender-Equitable Development and is a member of the Policies Committee for the World Renewable Energy Congress-X, Glasgow, Scotland, August 2008.


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Updated: Monday, 21-Jan-2013 20:47:31 CST