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HEW: Integrated decision-making about Housing, Energy and Wellbeing

In the UK, households contribute 26% of carbon emissions. The UK has ambitious greenhouse pollutant reduction targets, aiming to reduce overall CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. Emissions reduction in the residential energy sector is expected to play a significant part in overall climate change mitigation, partly because housing makes such a large contribution to overall emissions, and partly because it is argued the technologies already exist to achieve the reductions needed. 

In altering dwellings to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to expected changes in climate, there is tremendous potential for getting things very wrong by ignoring other objectives of housing. It is essential that while tackling the problem of climate change, other problems are not created, for health and wellbeing; the buildings and their contents; the economic, social and cultural viability of communities and the wider environment. 

The HEW project will allow policy-makers and other stakeholders to understand the many links between housing, energy and wellbeing. The research will lead to better recognition of the long-term effects of policies, and hopefully the recognition of effective policies that meet a variety of goals about housing. These goals could relate to housing affordability, energy efficiency, healthy houses and safe communities. At the moment these goals are considered separately by different agencies, leading to policies that can support one goal but undermine others.

In order to apply a systemic perspective and use participatory methods, there has been continual involvement with stakeholders through interviews, the development of causal maps and workshops held to help direct the project. This resulted in the production of a mapping report, the construction and use of causal maps and policy assessment tools. We are also disseminating and publishing the results through scientific publications, conference proceedings, and oral presentations at conferences.

We will be working with these recommendations to revise the report into a more final version, acknowledging that the collaborative maps will continue to be changed and refined as the project continues and pieces of strategic computer simulation are completed.

Session 4 enabled stakeholders to gain experience using the collaborative causal maps themselves to consider the impacts of specific policies. Small groups were asked to accept the collaborative causal maps as our current collective understanding of housing, energy and wellbeing. Each group was given a sector of the map (for example 'influences on household energy efficiency') along with descriptions of the balancing and reinforcing loops that it contained. Alongside this was a specific criterion, a proposed policy and a number of questions to guide discussions about the impacts of the proposed policy.

The collaborative causal maps produced from this workshop are provided under the 'Output' tab. Please note: these outputs from the session do not represent a full formal assessment of the policy. They are included to demonstrate how such discussions using the current version of the collaborative causal maps may already assist with the assessment of specific policies against a wider set of criteria.

People

Principal Investigator: Michael Davies

Project Manager: Nici Zimmermann

Researchers: Zaid Chalabi (LSHTM), Clive Shrubsole and Sibel Eker

PhD Students:  Yekatherina Bobrova, Kaveh Dianati 

Former researchers of the project: Alex Macmillan, Evelina Trutnevyte

Several other researchers at various stages of the project.

Workshops

There has been continual involvement with stakeholders through interviews, the development of causal maps and in addition workshops held to help direct the project and to engage policy makers from a variety of backgrounds in a participatory, dynamic process.

Stakeholders include representatives involved in policy influence from Central Government and local government, NGOs, industry, academics and community members

Participating organisations include:

AECOMGood Homes Alliance  
Affinity SuttonGovernment Fuel Poverty Advisory Group
Age UKGreater London Authority
ARUP ConsultancyHomebuilders Federation
Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam  UniversityISG PLC
Centre for Sustainable EnergyJoseph Rowntree Foundation
Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments University of the West of England Kings College LondonKings College London
Chartered Institute of Building Services EngineersLeeds Becket University
Chartered Institute of Environmental HealthLondon Health and Housing Network
Closed Loop ProjectsNational Housing Federation
Committee on Climate ChangeNational Trust
Community roots groupNatural Building
Consumer FocusNew Economics Foundation 
Core CitiesParity projects
Department for Business, Innovation and SkillsPositive Money
Department for Communities and Local GovernmentPublic Health England
Department for Environment, Food and Rural AffairsSheffield City Council
Department of Energy and Climate ChangeShelter  
Department of HealthSustainable by Design
EDF EnergySustainable Healthcare Network/Sustainable Development Foundation
English HeritageUK Climate Impacts Programme
Energy Institute, University College LondonUsable Buildings Trust
Energy Savings TrustWillmott Dixon
Environmental Change Institute and UKCIP, University of OxfordZero Carbon Hub
Workshop 1

The first HEW stakeholder workshop took place on 5th June 2013.

Presentations

Presentations given during the workshop are now available to view:

Professor Mike Davies (Introduction:)
 
Dr Alex Macmillan (Collaborative Mapping and Policy Simulation Tool - SDM: )
Dr Evelina Trutnevyte (Policy Assessment Tool - MCDA: )

 

Many thanks to all those that participated in the online survey and during the workshop. The selected criteria will now be used to assess policy options alongside the collaborative mapping and policy simulation tool. Stakeholders will be able to rank the importance of these criteria during workshop 3.

carbon emissions from housing community connection fuel poverty housing adaptation to climate change housing affordability mental and emotional wellbeing physical wellbeing / health social and income equity.

Collaborative Causal Maps (CLDs: Causal Loop Diagrams)

The collaborative causal maps (CLDs: Causal Loop Diagrams) were reviewed by the stakeholders during the first workshop activity. Following stakeholder comments during the workshop, these have been revised and are available for viewing under the 'Output' tab. The revised maps have been simplified in order to create the collaborative mapping and policy simulation tool. Stakeholders will be able to test the policy simulation tool during workshop 2.

Policy Assessment Criteria

In addition, following the policy assessment tool (MCDA: multi-criteria decision analysis), following the criteria selection during the workshop and the online survey, the criteria have now been finalised as:

 

Workshop 2

The second HEW stakeholder workshop took place on 6th November 2013. Many thanks to all those who attended for your valuable participation.

Presentation slides from the workshop can now be downloaded here:

. These cover session 1 (welcome and recap of HEW project), session 3 (What can we learn from small simulations?) and session 5 (summary and next steps). In session 2 stakeholders developed recommendations for the project report, 

In session 2 participants were facilitated to consider and put forward recommendations based on the draft report about the collaborative maps. The recommendations fell into two groups:

  • Recommendations about the process, as well as the content and presentation of the report
  • Recommendations emerging from the work so far that could potentially be included as part of the report

We will be working with these recommendations to revise the report into a more final version, acknowledging that the collaborative maps will continue to be changed and refined as the project continues and pieces of strategic computer simulation are completed.

Session 4 enabled stakeholders to gain experience using the collaborative causal maps themselves to consider the impacts of specific policies. Small groups were asked to accept the collaborative causal maps as our current collective understanding of housing, energy and wellbeing. Each group was given a sector of the map (for example 'influences on household energy efficiency') along with descriptions of the balancing and reinforcing loops that it contained. Alongside this was a specific criterion, a proposed policy and a number of questions to guide discussions about the impacts of the proposed policy.

The collaborative causal maps produced from this workshop are provided under the 'Output' tab. Please note: these outputs from the session do not represent a full formal assessment of the policy. They are included to demonstrate how such discussions using the current version of the collaborative causal maps may already assist with the assessment of specific policies against a wider set of criteria.

We encourage those of you who couldn't make it to the workshop to work through one (or even several) of the maps and questions yourselves.

Workshop 3

On 13 November 2014, University College London’s Institute of Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE) held its third workshop on housing, energy and wellbeing. It was attended by over 40 stakeholders from Government Departments involved in policy decision-making, industry, non-government organisations (NGOs), community groups and academia.  Funded by an EPSRC platform grant, the project on “Integrated decision-making about Housing, Energy and Wellbeing (HEW)”saw the Participants discussing new directions for policy-making in the area of carbon reductions in housing, while taking a set of interrelated goals into account that stretch to affordability, community connection, health and wellbeing. The workshop also addressed the question of how to achieve change in the overall system. 

Achieving policies that improve positive outcomes for health, equity and sustainability while emphasising co-benefits and minimising trade-offs, requires a different decision-making processes, as well as methods that successfully support these processes. Therefore, a participatory and interdisciplinary process has been applied throughout the project and at the third workshop. 

The workshop’s first session presented a policy assessment (MCDA: multi-criteria decision analysis:

) for different policy examples. Link It compared the policy impacts of outlawing poorly performing private rental properties as well as of strengthening community centres along a wide range of goal criteria that had been developed in a previous workshop, showing short  as well as long term effects on housing, energy and wellbeing.

The second session centred on the concrete policy of the Green Deal, an intendedly cost-neutral loan attached to a house that is repaid through bill savings:

. Workshop participants were presented with and employed a simulation model explaining the low uptake of the Green Deal. The modelling example was also used to explore interconnected areas of policy-making: (1) at its core a physical system, (2) surrounded by social aspects and users’ interaction with the system, (3) the incentive structure of policies, (4) questions of implementation and triggering change as well as (5) the paradigms and mind-sets representing how decision-makers’ ask questions and where they look for answers. The discussion also asked the question of how to implement change that would positively affect the variety of goal criteria.

In the last session participants were asked to point to burning issues they would like to see addressed. It became obvious how these issues barely stay within one topic area, but stretch for example from an affordability question to the market system and aspects of social and mental wellbeing. Following the presentation of the issues, participants developed intervention points for policy making that lie within the wide range of a policy’s concrete structure to the wider rules of the system and paradigms, representing economic, behaviour-oriented or different political perspectives. 

Group Model Building Workshops

In March-April 2016, we conducted three half-day workshops to develop a system dynamics model with small groups of stakeholders. The focus of these workshops was fragmentation/integration in the implementation of housing projects, and each workshop addressed a different domain where fragmentation occurs, such as the industry practice, communication with the communities and policy making. The collaborative model building process of the workshops helped derive the causal mechanisms that lead to fragmentation and also to reach a mutual understanding of the problem between the participants.

The three models resulting from the workshops will be combined and quantified to develop an interactive learning environment that will be introduced in the 4th Workshop on 30 June 2016.

Workshop I – Industry

In the first workshop held on 22 March 2016, the main discussion topic was why fragmentation occurs in the industry and how it is manifested. The participants were industry representatives and academics. The workshop resulted in a causal model structure developed collaboratively. This model represents the mechanisms between the ‘HEW’ (housing, energy and wellbeing) performance of buildings as-built by the industry, the performance gaps between the design, construction and post-occupancy stages, and the influence of the industry’s capabilities and quality orientation on performance. 

Workshop II – Community

On 7 April 2016, the second group model building workshop was held with five participants from the community groups, industry, local authorities and academia. The resulting model describes the causal mechanisms between community connection, third spaces (e.g. green space, community hubs, pubs, etc.), the HEW performance of dwellings and physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of residents. The workshop also included a discussion on the quantitative forms of several nonlinear relationships, such as community connection vs. wellbeing, HEW performance vs. community connection, and wellbeing vs. perceived HEW performance.

Workshop III - Policy

The third workshop took place on 21 April 2016 with the participation of seven stakeholders from central government, local authorities, industry, NGO’s and academia. Three major topics were discussed in the workshop and the related causal mechanisms are derived. These topics are (i) policy makers’ perception of what residents want, (ii) market mechanisms that determine the uptake of policy measures by the residents, and (iii) local authorities’ role in the adoption of these policy measures in relation to the central government.

At the end of each workshop, the participants were asked to evaluate the session by filling a questionnaire. The outcome of these questionnaires showed that the participants found these sessions useful and an efficient way to understand the problem and to gain insights. Furthermore, the participants reported that the resulting model structure integrates diverse opinions that were present in the sessions, and that the participants could reach a consensus during the workshops.    

If our research caught your interest, please view the rest of the information on our website or contact Nici Zimmermann.

Workshop 4

The 4th full-day stakeholder workshop of the HEW project took place on 30 June 2016 with the participation of various stakeholders from government departments, industry, non-government organisations (NGOs), community groups and academia. We were happy to see many first-time participants in addition to the stakeholders who were actively engaged in the previous activities of the project.

In this workshop, we introduced a new interactive simulation environment named HEW-WISE. The purpose of this simulation environment is to enhance systems thinking by integrating multiple factors that relate to energy efficiency, housing, community aspects and wellbeing of residents, instead of thinking in silos. You can access this completely web-based simulation environment and learn more about it via the link below.

> Access the web-enabled interactive simulation environment

This simulation environment is based on a simulation model we developed with the inputs collected from stakeholders in the previous stages of the project, such as the interviews conducted between February and October 2015 and three group model building workshops held in March-April 2016. The model behind the simulation environment is a simplified version of this larger simulation model, and it captures the main relationships and feedback loops between housing performance, wellbeing of residents and community.

During the workshop participants had chance to use the interactive simulation environment twice, where they were asked to allocate a certain budget to energy efficiency, monitoring or communal spaces. This task is explained in more detail in the instructions for the simulation environment. In the first interactive session, the simulation environment was presented as a black box, i.e. without any information about the underlying model structure. This session enabled participants to become familiar with the simulation environment and raised motivation to enquire about the underlying model structure.

The second interactive simulation session of the workshop followed an explanatory unfolding of the underlying model structure. In this session, each group of participants was again asked to reach a consensus on investments in energy efficiency, monitoring and communal spaces, but this time based on the knowledge of the mechanisms that connect housing performance, wellbeing and community. Furthermore, participants were encouraged to challenge the model assumptions and observe the effect of these assumptions on the model output.

During the workshop, we also presented the larger simulation model from which we derived the interactive simulation environment. This larger model captures more detail about the performance gaps in the industry and retrofitting of older houses for higher energy efficiency and it includes feedback from community connection to energy and performance improvements. We presented a scenario analysis based on this model to convey further insights about the investments in energy efficiency and the positive leverage generated from investments into monitoring and communal spaces.

We dedicated the last session of the workshop to discuss the potential points of departure for future research, such as a socio-economic viewpoint of the housing crisis in London, the role of uncertainty in decision making in the housing, energy and wellbeing domain, and organisational decision-making in housing. The participatory research has led to an acknowledgment of the long-term effects of policies, and hopefully the recognition of effective policies that meet a variety of goals about housing and overall wellbeing. We received useful recommendations from the participants about how to shape our future work, as well as positive comments regarding the project’s impact on their way of thinking. Some of these comments are anonymously presented below.

“I have gained a much better understanding of the complexity and interacting nature of HEW interventions.”

“I am really supportive of the systems approach and have been inspired by how you have used it to bring stakeholders together to do this.”

“Powerful tool to influence policy colleagues.”

“The simulation environment is a perfect communication tool.”

Fruitful discussions continued over drinks and nibbles.

You can access the slides presented at the workshop here:

Introduction and context: 

HEW project: 

Simulation environment: 

Scenarios: 

HEW future and housing crisis: 

If our research caught your interest, please view the rest of the information on our website or contact Nici Zimmermann.

Interactive Simulation Environment

At the 4th stakeholder workshop of the project, held on 30 June 2016, the HEW project team will introduce a new interactive simulation environment which is completely web-based: HEW-WISE.

> Access the web-enabled interactive simulation environment (HEW-WISE)

More information coming soon…

Output

Scientific Journal Articles

Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing: a qualitative system dynamics model

Macmillan, A, M Davies, C Shrubsole, N Luxford, N May, L.F Chiu, E Trutnevyte, Y Bobrova and Z Chalabi. 2016. "Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing: a qualitative system dynamics model." Environmental Health 15 (1): 23-34.

From the unintended consequences of considering policy objectives in isolation, this paper aims to move towards mapping the links between environmental, economic, social and health outcomes as a complex system. We used participatory system dynamics modelling to develop a qualitative causal theory linking housing, energy and wellbeing. Qualitative interviews were followed by two interactive workshops (Workshop 1 and Workshop 2) to develop the model, involving representatives from national and local government, housing industries, non-government organisations, communities and academia. The process resulted in a shared understanding of wellbeing as it relates to housing; an agreed set of criteria against which to assess to future policy options; and a comprehensive set of causal loop diagrams describing the housing, energy and wellbeing system. (These causal loop diagrams can be seen in the Reports section.) The collaborative learning process and the model have been useful for shifting the thinking of a wide range of housing stakeholders towards a more integrated approach to housing. The qualitative model has begun to improve the assessment of future policy options across a broad range of outcomes.

100 unintended consequences of policies to improve the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock

Shrubsole, C, A Macmillan, M Davies and N May. 2014. "100 Unintended consequences of policies to improve the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock." Indoor and Built Environment: 23 (3): 340-352.

In this paper, that won the 2014 best paper award by Indoor and Built Environment , we found that current policies with a singular focus on reducing carbon emissions from dwellings have a very large number of wide-ranging additional impacts on health, society and the environment. Housing design, availability and cost all are linked to human health and wellbeing outcomes. Although reducing carbon emissions is one major focus of policy about housing, separate policies aim to reduce fuel poverty and stimulate housing construction and use property turnover as a driver for economic growth.

A more comprehensive consideration of outcomes would integrate a wider range of relationships between changes in dwelling characteristics and physical, social, economic and environmental wellbeing. These may include effects on household crowding and spread of infectious diseases; employment patterns; indoor noise and air pollution; social connection and sense of security; and housing markets and affordability. It is therefore crucial to consider decarbonisation as just one objective in a wider system of housing, energy and well-being. 

The unintended consequences of decarbonising the built environment: A UK case study

Davies, M., and T. Oreszczyn. 2012. "The unintended consequences of decarbonising the built environment: A UK case study." Energy and Buildings: 46: 80-85.

In the context of the decarbonisation of the housing stock, this paper demonstrates the potential for significant unintended consequences and discuss the complexity involved in attempting to understand such processes. To avoid such unintended consequences, the paper suggests the formation of multi- and inter-disciplinary teams with the diverse range of skill sets required to think together and to address these issues. Such an integrated approach and systems thinking is proposed both for research and decision-making.

Conference Proceedings

Meaning-making in the process of participatory system dynamics research

Zimmermann, N, L Black, C Shrubsole and M Davies. 2015. Meaning-making in the process of participatory system dynamics research. In the 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society. Cambridge, MA.

This theoretical paper addresses how group processes help participants generate joint understanding. Participatory methods aim to change participants understanding, decision making and actions. While good examples of how joint understanding emerges exist in participatory system dynamics, a sound theoretical underpinning is still missing. This paper therefore draws on social theories and relates them to a case example in the area of housing. We argue that participatory methods should include four elements of meaning-making (i.e. gesturing, naming, acting, and iterating) in order to align participants’ thinking.

Reports

Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing (HEW): Report on the mapping work for stakeholders:

Macmillan, A, M Davies and Y Bobrova. 2014. Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing (HEW): Report on the mapping work for stakeholders. London: The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment, Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering.

This report summarises the collaborative causal maps about housing, energy and wellbeing. The maps have been constructed from 35 in-depth interviews with stakeholders and a multi-disciplinary literature review. They were reviewed and adapted by 26 policy, NGO, industry and academic stakeholders in a workshop in June 2013 and reflect further feedback from both individual stakeholders, two community roots group workshops and a second all-stakeholder workshop.

HEW Collaborative causal maps

The main map was constructed from the interviews and literature review. It has been divided into causal maps sections which are presented here. These represent sets of deeply interconnected feedback loops. These are interactive (click on the map link and scroll down to activate).

Community connection and physical quality of neighbourhoods: physical quality of houses and neighbourhoods: 

Energy efficiency and climate change

Fuel poverty and indoor temperature: 

Household crowding:

 

Housing affordability

Housing affordability: national property market -  


Housing affordability: regional housing affordability - 

Housing affordability: local housing affordability - 

 

Land ownership, value and development patterns - 

Ventilation and indoor air pollution - 

 

News Articles

Deal or no Green Deal: time to make smarter policies

Shrubsole, C. Deal or no Green Deal: time to make smarter policies. Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change (ARCC) Network 2016.

How London’s next mayor could fix air pollution – and save lives

Shrubsole, C. 2016. "How London’s next mayor could fix air pollution – and save lives." The Conversation.

Drive to improve housing can bring unintended consequences

Shrubsole, C. 2014. "Drive to improve housing can bring unintended consequences." The Conversation.

Links

UCL IEDE Blog

Systems Thinking at UCL IEDE

EPSRC Platform Renewal Grant: The Unintended Consequences of Decarbonising the Built Environment

TOP (The Total Performance of Low Carbon Buildings in China and the UK)

For further information please contact: Michael Davies or Nici Zimmermann

 

 

 

 

 

 

housing wellbeing