Reconstructing low-energy housing using ‘systems of practice’.

Macrorie, Rachel (2016) Reconstructing low-energy housing using ‘systems of practice’. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

The residential sector accounts for a third of energy use in the UK (DECC, 2014b)
and generates fifteen percent of greenhouse gas emissions (DECC, 2014c). Lowenergy
housing is therefore critical to meeting climate change mitigation targets
(DECC, 2011). New homes are required to be carbon-neutral by 2016, presenting
a considerable challenge to the housing industry (DCLG, 2006). Addressing this
ambition remains shaped by the ‘techno-rational paradigm’, where energy savings rely
on optimal design, technological diffusion and ‘correct’ use. In contrast, this thesis
understands technologies and ‘behaviours’ as connected through social practices, which
interrelate in dynamic ‘systems of practice’.
Housing policy, newly built homes, and domestic practices are critical to governing
low-energy housing transformations, yet initiatives consistently fail to account
for inter-connections between these different practices. Whilst interventions are
attempted, they frequently go awry, or operate in unexpected ways. Developing a
systems of practice analysis, this thesis analyses implementation of the Code for
Sustainable Homes (CSH) - a building energy performance standard introduced to
drive ‘a step-change in sustainable home building practice’ (DCLG, 2006). A Norfolkbased
affordable housing scheme, accredited as carbon-neutral, forms the focus of this
mixed-methods case-study.
The research identifies that householders incorporate energy-efficient building
materials and renewable technologies in ways that frequently fail to mesh with
designers’ assumptions. Housing professionals also struggle to modify ingrained ‘ways
of doing’. Importantly, these actors and their practices are enabled, or constrained, by
connections within and across broader practice systems. This has important governance
implications. Research and policy should therefore: (i) conceptually map the housing
system delimiting the network of involved actors and agents, and identifying pivotal
links for target practices or interventions, (ii) generate multi-actor and multi-pronged
interventions and join up distributed sources of evidence, and (iii) attend to how
interventions generate reactions, interactions and resistances across the practice system.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 04 May 2016 09:00
Last Modified: 04 May 2016 09:00
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/58553
DOI:

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