Developing innovative low energy housing projects – examples from the UK

Martiskainen, Mari and Kivimaa, Paula (2017) Developing innovative low energy housing projects – examples from the UK. In: Energy for Society, First International Conference on Energy Research and Social Science, 2-5 April, 2017, Melia Sitges, Spain.

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The UK’s existing housing stock is in urgent need of improvement in order for the country to meet climate change targets, provide decent homes and tackle fuel poverty. Around 25% of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from domestic housing, a sizeable portion that will need to be reduced to achieve an 80% cut in emissions by 2050. A recent survey by homeless charity Shelter found that four in ten British homes are not up to standard, and suffer from problems such as persistent damp and condensation which in turn can impact negatively on people’s health. Retrofitting the UK’s homes is an enormous challenge, given barriers such as lack of knowledge of retrofitting amongst the public, high capital investment costs, lack of policy support and demand drivers for retrofits, and potential disruption during retrofit works. The rate of new build properties meanwhile remains slow, and policy support for new low energy buildings especially has been diminishing in the past year. Taking a grounded theory approach and insights from sustainability transitions literature, this paper analyses the development of six low energy housing projects in Brighton, UK. Using in-depth case studies based on document analysis and 17 semi-structured interviews, three whole house retrofit projects and three zero carbon new build houses are analysed in relation to key themes emerging in their development. Especially issues such as motivations and expectations, knowledge and available skills, intermediation, and the influence of both local and national politics emerged as key themes influencing and impacting on low energy housing projects. At a time when national level policy support for low energy housing is at a crossroads in the UK, local actors with local connections and knowledge networks can further play a key part in successful projects.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: low energy housing, buildings, energy efficiency, intermediation
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Research Centres and Groups: The Sussex Energy Group
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mari Martiskainen
Date Deposited: 22 May 2017 15:35
Last Modified: 24 May 2017 07:21
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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Research Centre on Innovation and Energy DemandG1020RCUK-RESEARCH COUNCILS UKEP/K011790/1