Social and behavioural barriers to achieving low-carbon retrofits in social housing

David Lowery, Kate Theobald, Sara Walker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


It is estimated that about one third of the UK’s total carbon emissions come from its housing stock: some 26 million existing homes. Therefore, the energy needs of domestic properties are clearly a significant issue in any overall attempts to ‘decarbonise’ the economy. Due to its share of UK housing stock and potential for impacting on CO2 emissions, the Social Housing sector represents a platform for more wide-spread and rapid penetration of low-carbon interventions. However, the more widespread application of energy saving technologies has not delivered expected savings, and behaviour is becoming more recognised as a crucial factor in yielding the highest energy savings. Strategies to tackle energy efficiency in social housing often centre only on technical interventions (such as installation of improved insulation, more efficient heating systems or renewable energy sources) and neglect the importance of the behavioural responses to them. It is thus advisable to consider technological and behavioural factors collectively to evaluate these approaches. This paper is based on initial findings of a project conducted with Gentoo Group (an organisation managing 30,000 rented housing units around Sunderland) which monitored the installation of new low-carbon energy solutions in a sample of 100 households. With a focus on energy consumption, the findings identify behavioural barriers and potential opportunities to achieving low-carbon homes in a social housing setting. Further exploration of these issues may direct future retrofit interventions, attempting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing social housing stock.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2011
EventRGS-IBG Annual International Conference - London, UK
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual International Conference
Period1/01/11 → …
Internet address


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