Claire Hoolohan

University of Manchester
Partner institution - CAST

Research Fellow


Claire is a Research Fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. She is a social scientist working with social practice theories in the field of sustainable production and consumption. Her research explores the social dimensions of global challenges such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, low-carbon food and water use. Her expertise are in the development of novel transdisciplinary methods to examine sustainable futures, and identify pathways for change. Claire's fellowship investigates the implications of digital technologies and business models for water governance in the UK.

Claire started her career as a sustainability consultant, working with businesses and government organisations to develop greenhouse gas budgets and low-carbon food strategies. Her PhD, commended for “Emerging Impact” in the University of Manchester’s social responsibility awards, sought to involve key actors within the water sector to develop novel approaches to reduce water demand. The UK has a growing water security challenge, and how to reduce demand is one aspect of this challenge that is particularly poorly understood. Claire’s PhD research identifies avenues to bring about lasting and meaningful change to ordinary patterns of consumption. Read a summary.

More recently, Claire lead the development of a practice-based design method, Change Points, which enables businesses and organisations to develop systemic interventions for sustainability related challenges. This method has been applied to investigate solutions to the UKs  ‘unflushables’ challenge with Anglian Water. It has also been used by WWF-UK and Possible to scope activities to enable low-carbon diets, and by Defra to understand social and material dimensions of everyday water use. Download the Change Points Toolkit.

On the Stepping Up project, Claire lead a work package examining how possible social, technological and climate development could affect the UK’s water-energy-food nexus. Combining stakeholder insights with those from the existing scientific evidence base, this project developed a novel methodology to combine critical social science research with quantitative modelling techniques to inform the UKs sustainability planning. Read the STEPPING UP final report.

Recent publications:

Hoolohan and Browne (2020) Design thinking for practice-based intervention: Co-producing the change points toolkit to unlock (un) sustainable practices. Design Studies 67, 102-132

Hoolohan, McLachlan, Larkin (2019) ‘Aha’ moments in the water-energy-food nexus: A new morphological scenario method to accelerate sustainable transformation. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 148, 119712

Hoolohan et al (2018) Change Points: A toolkit for designing interventions that unlock unsustainable practices. The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK Available Online:

Hoolohan and Browne (2018) Reimagining innovation for water efficiency and demand management. Water Alternatives. 11(3), 472

Hoolohan, Larkin, McLachlan, et al., (2018) Engaging stakeholders in research to address water–energy–food (WEF) nexus challengesSustainability science 13 (5), 1415-1426

Hoolohan and Browne (2018) Encountering water. Chapter in Water, Creativity and Meaning: Multidisciplinary understandings of human-water relationships. EarthScan.

Hoolohan et al (2018) Stepping‐up innovations in the water–energy–food nexus: A case study of anaerobic digestion in the UKThe Geographical Journal

Hoolohan, McLachlan & Mander (2018) Food-related routines and energy policy: A focus group study examining the potential for change in the United KingdomEnergy Research & Social Science

Claire Hoolohan (2016) Reframing water efficiency. PhD Summary available online:

Hoolohan & Browne (2016) Reframing water efficiency: determining collective approaches to change water use in the homeBritish Journal of Environment and Climate Change

Hoolohan, McLachlan, Mander, (2016) Trends and drivers of end-use energy demand and the implications for managing energy in food supply chainsSustainable Production and Consumption

Maria Sharmina, Claire Hoolohan, et al. (2016) A nexus perspective on competing land demands: Wider lessons from a UK policy case study. Environmental Science & Policy.

Hoolohan, Berners-Lee, McKinstry-West, Hewitt (2013) Mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in food through realistic consumer choicesEnergy Policy. 

Hoolohan, Berners-Lee, Cammack, Hewitt (2012) The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choicesEnergy Policy.