UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


New paper: Integrated decision making about housing, energy and wellbeing

14 April 2016

New publication

Members of the Housing, Energy and Wellbeing (HEW) project collaborated on a paper recently published in a special issue of Environmental Health, which was launched at the Healthy-Polis workshop on the 14th March in a presentation given by Dr Nicole Zimmermann (UCL IEDE). The paper represents the first phases of the project that involved more than 50 representatives from 37 organisations including national and local government, housing industries, non-government organisations, communities and academia.

Highlights of the paper include:  

  • A process to support a broad range of housing policy stakeholders to improve their understanding of housing as a complex system through a collaborative learning process.
  • A clear methodology enabling policy makers to move from considering various objectives of housing policies in isolation, to mapping the links between environmental, economic, social and health outcomes as a complex system.
  • The development of a comprehensive system model linking housing, energy and public health, with immediate usefulness for all those with a stake in housing policy in the UK.
  • A wellbeing framework for considering policies about housing that incorporates physical, mental, environmental, social and economic wellbeing.
  • Demonstrating the usefulness of participatory system dynamics modelling (PSDM) as a collaborative learning process to support improved policymaking for housing that is able to integrate a broad range of outcomes across wellbeing, social and health equity, and environmental sustainability.


The figure below describes the methodology that led to the development of a board wellbeing framework and a collaborative learning process for improved policymaking. It involved interviews with a diverse set of stakeholders to elicit their understanding in cognitive maps, the analysis and reconciliation of such understandings and the development of causal loop diagrams (CLD’s). The latter provided the basis for an emerging understanding of causal interdependencies across seven themes and enabled individuals to see their expertise/ focus area in perspective. The interdisciplinary process also supported the development of an underpinning housing and wellbeing framework. Facilitated system dynamics workshops aided the continuous refinement of the work and the development of an integrated perspective.

>> Read the full open-access article

Authors: Macmillan A, Davies M, Shrubsole C, Luxford N, May N, Chiu L-F, Trutnevyte E, Bobrova K, and Chalabi Z.