Maximising the Diffusion and Impact of Microgeneration Technologies in New Housing

Project Overview

This project is investigating the selection, integration and use of low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies within new build housing. These technologies are a common and important part of the solution to meet the Code for Sustainable Homes and associated changes to Part L of the Building Regulations target of zero carbon by 2016. The project is taking a whole supply chain approach, with interviews being conducted with LZC technology manufacturers and suppliers, housing developers, right the way through to home occupiers; examining the socio-technical networks and interplay between these actors. This twenty-four month project is jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and EDF Energy.
This project is currently conducting fieldwork with six new housing developments and three LZC technology manufacturers within the United Kingdom (UK). The project will also conduct an international comparison of case studies between France and the UK.
The project brief can be downloaded from here 

Background

Housing accounts for 30% of all energy consumed and is responsible for 27% of all carbon emissions in the UK. Furthermore, one third of the housing stock (around 8 million new homes) will have been built between 2007-2050. The new housing development industry is thus of strategic importance to the reduction of the UK’s CO2 emissions. The development and widespread diffusion of low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies is recognised as a key part of the drive to lower CO2 emissions (as well as contributing to addressing issues of energy security, fuel poverty and competitive markets). LZC technologies are understood as “generally applied to renewable sources of energy, and also to technologies which are significantly more efficient than traditional solutions or which emit less carbon in providing heating, cooling or power.” However, the uptake of these technologies within the UK has been limited and patchy, even more so when compared to various other European countries.

Key Aim

The Code for Sustainable Homes and associated changes to Part L of the Building Regulations is requiring housing developers to produce zero carbon homes from 2016. The aim of this project is to investigate the selection, integration and use of LZC technologies to meet the 2016 target. The project is taking a whole supply chain approach, with interviews being conducted with LZC technology manufacturers and suppliers, housing developers right the way through to home occupiers. Further, a comparative study of the type and use LZC technologies in new housing will be carried out between France and the UK. The findings will provide detailed case studies which will report good practice and recommendations for improvements.

Partners

Industry partners
Barratt Homes

Home Builders Federation (HBF)

National House Building Council Foundation

Zero Carbon Hub

Acadmic partners
University of Reading (project leader)

University of Salford

Key Research Questions

In order to achieve the aim of the project, the research is addressing the following questions:

  • How and why do LZC technology manufacturers interact with housing developers and end-users, and how does this shape the strategy and practices of the manufacturers and the design of the LZC technologies? How does the current market and regulatory context shape this interaction?
  • How and why do housing developers interact with LZC technology manufacturers and end-users, and how does this shape the strategy and practices of the housing developers and the incorporation of the LZC technologies in housing designs? How does the current market and regulatory context shape this interaction?
  • How do end-users interact with LZC technologies and how does this interaction shape the use of the technologies and the end-users' practices? How do users practical needs and cultural understandings shape this interaction?
  • How do socio-technical networks in France and the UK differ in their uptake of similar LZC technologies and what does this teach us about the effect of national institutional contexts on the deployment of LZC technologies?

Research Outputs

The research output includes academic papers, industry reports, workshops, seminars, and the submission of conference papers.

Conference papers

Lu, S. and Sexton, M. (2011), "New governance approaches to environmental regulation: an example of the Code for Sustainable Homes", Proceedings of the 27th Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM) Conference, Bristol, UK: 5th - 7th September, Vol. 2, pp. 1065-1074.

Lu, S. (2011), "System innovation for sustainable built environments: the case of light emitting diodes", Proceedings of the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) International Conference Management and Innovation for a Sustainable Built Environment - MISBE2011, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 20th - 23rd June.

Conference papers under review

Bevan, W.J. and Lu, S. (forthcoming 2012), "Maximising the diffusion and impact of low and zero carbon technologies in new housing", Proceedings of the CIB international Conference of W055, W065, W089, W118, TG76, TG78, TG81 and TG84 - Management of Construction: Research to Practice, Montreal, Canada: 26th - 28th June.

Bevan, W.J. and Lu, S. (forthcoming 2012), "Multidisciplinary perspective of the selection and integration of low and zero carbon technologies into new housing", Proceedings of the 28th ARCOM Conference, Edinburgh, UK: 3rd - 5th September.

Industry reports

Sexton, M. and Lees, T. (forthcoming 2012), "Dominant low and zero carbon technologies: diffusion and occupant behaviour in new build housing", NHBC Foundation, UK.

Workshops

Innovation for Low Carbon Housing, 27th March 2012, University of Reading, Reading.

Seminars

Lu, S. "Microgeneration technologies in new housing - doomed to failure?", School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, 30th June, 2011.

Bevan, W.J. "Maximising the diffusion and impact of microgeneration technologies in new housing", School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, 1st December, 2011.

Internationalisation

"Low-carbon buildings - the link between environmental regulation and innovation: comparative study between Taiwan and the UK", 2011 Taiwan Research Visiting Scholar Grant, Ministry of Education, Taiwan (Professor Martin Sexton).

The Visiting Scholarship focused on sharing research ideas and discussed collaboration around the themes of low-carbon buildings, sustainable technologies, intelligent buildings and building information modelling.

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