Dr Larissa Nicholls

Larissa Nicholls is a Research Fellow in the Beyond Behaviour Change research program at the Centre for Urban Research.

Larissa uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand practices which involves resource consumption and/or health and wellbeing outcomes.

Larissa’s research aims to identify pathways to more sustainable, healthy and equitable practices – including how policy and organisations can support these transitions. Her research is informed by a broad background including energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives, teaching and training, community development and medical research.

Her research interests include:

  • Energy consumption and impacts of technologies on household life
  • Urban planning, design and health outcomes
  • Energy demand, pricing, programs and policy
  • Equity and access to energy efficient, healthy housing
  • Heatwave vulnerability and preparedness
  • Role of community in urban and regional life
  • Food practices, food security and food safety

Larissa was awarded the Peter Harrison Memorial Prize at the 2015 State of Australian Cities Conference for a distinctive contribution to knowledge and capacity for the sustainable development of Australian Cities and Regions (with co-authors Kath Phelan & Cecily Maller).

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Related Content


Electricity relationships and strategies for the Future Grid

Qualitative household and industry research focusing on demand management and new energy technologies to inform the design and delivery of Australia’s ‘Future Grid’.

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Persistent Energy Hardship

Understanding prevalence and demography of long-term energy hardship via analysis of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics longitudinal dataset.

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Understanding diversity in electricity customers

Ethnographic household research to inform future electricity pricing strategies an infrastructure planning in Victoria.

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Early delivery of equitable and healthy transport options in new suburbs

The project will produce evidence and tools to assist both the public and private sectors provide transport options to residents of Melbourne’s new suburbs as soon as they move in.

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Hidden energy poverty: Case studies research project

Investigating energy and water under-use by households in order to afford utility bill payments which may have adverse effects on health and quality of life.

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Smart Home Control: Exploring the potential for enabling technologies in households

RMIT researchers are trialling ‘smart’ home control devices in 46 households in Victoria and South Australia – to assess the potential of these devices to help manage home electricity consumption.

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Heatwaves, Homes & Health

The Heatwaves, Homes & Health project investigated the impacts of electricity pricing and energy policy on heat vulnerable households.

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Automating the smart home

This project will be the first Australian investigation of how automated technologies are being incorporated into household practices, and the expectations they promote, sustain and transform.

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Changing demand: the flexibility of energy practices in larger households with dependent children

Researchers from the Beyond Behaviour Change research team investigated changing household energy demand.

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Disconnections case studies, Consumer Action Law Centre

The Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) engaged the Beyond Behaviour Change research team to interview householders who have been disconnected from their energy supply.

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Lifestyle audit

As part of the Australian Government's Smart Grid, Smart City demonstration project, Ausgrid engaged the Beyond Behaviour Change team to develop a home energy audit for households.

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Selandra Rise: Researching planning for health and wellbeing

This project explored how the planning and design of a new residential community can influence the health and wellbeing of future residents.

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News & Blog

An ‘Airbnb’ for energy could help homes share spare power

Could the future of energy lie in the sharing economy? Research shows energy sharing platforms may be key to supporting our transition to new tech and cleaner power, while delivering for consumers.

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One reason people install smart home tech is to show off to their friends

Ever wondered what all the fuss is about when it comes to smart homes? You’re not alone.

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High energy costs make vulnerable households reluctant to use air conditioning: study

The trifecta of rising electricity prices, soaring temperatures and concerns over possible blackouts risks increasing heat-related deaths and illness this summer, as households struggle to afford to run cooling appliances.

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Unfair access to air leaves the vulnerable feeling the heat

Rising electricity prices and vague public messaging put vulnerable households at greater danger from extreme heat, new research from RMIT University shows.

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New bus route improves well-being and social connection in Melbourne’s new communities

Research exploring the impact of a bus route a new housing development on Melbourne’s south-east growth corridor has revealed the positive effects on community well being with the early delivery of bus services in new greenfield developments.

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Energy pricing policy review finds gaps for heat vulnerable residents

A review of electricity pricing policy by RMIT academics has found little consideration of the health and financial risks to vulnerable groups during heatwaves or hot weather.

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‘Smart home’ gadgets promise to cut power bills but many lie idle – or can even boost energy use

“Smart” home control devices promise to do many things, including helping households reduce their energy bills. However, our research published today suggests that these devices are not the “easy” answer to energy management.

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Smart home control – is the reality as bright as its promise?

A new RMIT study finds that ‘smart home’ devices may not be as bright as we thought.

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Smart home technology: not the brightest way to save energy

A new study by RMIT University has found smart home control devices may actually increase energy use rather than cutting it, with households using them more for lifestyle benefits than to save power.

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New study exposes the sacrifices families make to pay energy bills

A new report by the Victorian Council of Social Service and the RMIT Centre for Urban Research shows the struggles and sacrifices Australians on low-incomes are making to stay connected to power.

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Hot dogs and cool cats: keeping pets cool without blowing your energy bill

As the weather heats up, Australian households won’t just be cranking up the air conditioning for themselves. Some households will be turning it on for their dogs or cats.

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New study examines heatwave health risks on vulnerable households

As global warming makes heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter, how do we help households who are most vulnerable to health and financial impacts?

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Urban researchers shine at RMIT Research Awards

Three researchers from the Centre for Urban Research have been recognised by RMIT University for their outstanding research contributions and industry collaboration.

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The hidden energy cost of smart homes

Light globes that change colour with the tap of an app, coffee machines you can talk to, and ovens that know exactly how long to cook your food: our homes are getting smart

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Building in connectivity integral to health of people on urban fringe

Connectivity to public transport with job prospects close by is integral to improving the health and wellbeing of residents in developing fringe growth areas, according to new research.

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Build in good services from day one for healthier communities: lessons from Selandra Rise

Building new residential communities is no mean feat. Building healthy new communities is an even greater challenge.

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Reducing commute times integral to the health of outer surburban residential communities

Providing good public transport links with job opportunities near affordable housing is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of residential communities in outer suburban growth areas, according to new research.

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Researchers honoured for city fringe health project

RMIT researchers have been recognised at the State of Australian Cities Conference (SOAC) for their work exploring problems faced by people living on the urban fringe.

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Feral o’clock: why families struggle to shift their energy use

Research with parents reveals that many household routines are unlikely to shift in response to cost-reflective tariffs such as time-of-use (TOU).

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Study examines electricity use in family life

Families around Australia are needed to take part in RMIT research to better understand how electricity is used in households with children.

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