Feedback from residents crucial to cutting carbon emissions from housing

  • New book argues housing industry must listen to feedback in order to become sustainable
  • Professor Fionn Stevenson to speak at national debate on housing post-occupancy evaluation
  • Housing responsible for nearly 15 per cent of UK emissions

The housing industry must listen to feedback at every stage of a project’s lifecycle in order to become sustainable, according to a new book.Housing Fit for Purpose

In Housing Fit for Purpose: Performance, Feedback and Learning, Professor Fionn Stevenson, Chair in Sustainable Design at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture, argues that hearing from those living in new and retrofitted homes could slash carbon emissions from housing.

Professor Stevenson will today take part in a national EDGE debate in London on housing post-occupancy evaluation, chaired by the government’s Head Architect Andy von Bradsky, alongside key policymakers and members of the architecture, building and housing industries.

The book comes after the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) recommended that all member practices should offer such post-occupancy evaluations as part of their standard client service - which could have major consequences for the housing industry.

In February, the UK Committee on Climate Change called for greater levels of inspection and stricter enforcement of building standards, alongside demands that 'as-built' performance of UK homes must be better monitored.

Without these measures (and stricter penalties for non-compliance), the 1.5 million new homes planned for the next few years and the 29 million homes to be retrofitted will not perform as intended.

Up to two thirds of the UK’s adult population have concerns over the quality of the UK’s housing stock, and believe British homes are not ‘fit for purpose’. This isn’t just a reflection of concern over how small properties are becoming, but over how they will ever be able to help us meet the government’s targeting of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Housing is currently responsible for nearly 15 per cent of all carbon emissions in the UK and plays a key role in the plan for reducing the impact of climate breakdown.

Professor Fionn Stevenson, author of Housing Fit for Purpose, said: “All too often, housing does not meet the needs of its occupiers. Further to this, there is no consensus in the sector on how this could be improved. Despite good intentions, both ‘affordable’ and standard housing routinely uses twice the amount of energy it is supposed to use, and often fails to satisfy even the basic needs of its occupants.

Housing Fit for Purpose aims to demonstrate why and how the design, construction and management of housing can be linked to feedback and actual evidence of how people choose and learn to use their homes, examining key concepts which underlie participatory design, occupancy feedback and learning.”

Including a practical primer on how to undertake housing occupancy feedback, the book appeals to both architects and their clients, students and academics, engineers and other built environment professionals. It is available via RIBA Bookshops and online.

Professor Stevenson will also be speaking about her new book at an Off The Shelf event in Sheffield on 14 October 2019.

Additional information

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For further information please contact:

Sophie Armour
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The University of Sheffield
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