Social Status and Carbon Footprints
Energy Project

#Berlin/Brandenburg #Energy
January – December 2023

Social Status and Carbon Footprints

Funded institution
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Cooperation partner(s):
Haus & Grund e.V.

General information

One of the project’s goals was to encourage energy-efficient retrofits by advising property owners on the potentials for reducing emissions and saving energy. Field studies also analyzed the potentials that motivate property owners to push to retrofit their properties in order to increase their social status. The project differentiated between different types of status seekers: instrumental pursuit of status, because it brings tangible benefits, and non-instrumental pursuit of social status.


The field studies were carried out online using an anonymized procedure. They ran via a page that provided property owners with access to the advising service mentioned above. The participants were recruited in collaboration with Haus & Grund e.V.


Insights were gained into the relative scale of the types of status seekers mentioned above and their potential in relation to different types of retrofitting projects. It is conceivable, for example, that less “visible” retrofitting investments are making slow progress because property owners attach little status to them. Satellite images, for example, show a proliferation of rooftop solar panels, suggesting that people are following the lead of their neighborhoods. If this is indeed the case, it would be important to plan the heat transition in terms of districts, and not individual houses. An attempt could be made to use targeted subsidies to create “hotspots” for energy modernization measures in corresponding neighborhoods.


The project results will be available on the HU Berlin website (ISQD group) from the end of the Q1 2024.


We’re seeing indications that there may be a social dimension to energy retrofitting. This could be addressed with what we call “heat pump parties.” Property owners can invite their friends and extended circle to information events at their home, and show off and can talk about their experience with their new heat pump.

Prof. Dr. Alex Stomper
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Prof. Dr. Alex Stomper


Prof. Dr. Alex Stomper
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin