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Practice, policy and professional roles: unintended consequences and performance gaps in UK domestic solid wall insulation retrofit projects

Forman, Timothy 2015. Practice, policy and professional roles: unintended consequences and performance gaps in UK domestic solid wall insulation retrofit projects. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Space heating in domestic buildings accounts for roughly one-fifth of UK greenhouse gas emissions. There are roughly 11 million homes in the UK potentially suitable for solid wall insulation (including hard-to-treat cavity constructions). Remarkably, approximately 97 per cent of homes built with solid walls have no wall insulation. Retrofitting these homes with insulation offers the potential to significantly reduce national greenhouse gas emissions while reducing expenditure on fuel, improving thermal comfort and realising numerous important associated benefits. This research began at the onset of an upsurge in national rates of solid wall insulation retrofit in 2011-2012. At that time, anecdotal reports pointed toward a legacy of poor practices and continued problems in the retrofit industry. A literature review outlines knowledge about the risks of performance gaps and unintended consequences. Participant and non-participant observation, site inspection and qualitative study are employed in area-based retrofit projects and across a variety of related settings. Analysis interprets observations against a range of existing theory and develops new theoretical insights. Findings convey an understanding of a subset of the landscape in which retrofitting occurs and identify a number of challenges to improving practice. The perspectives of installers, managers, trainers and a range of professionals are reported. The research suggests that unintended consequences are likely to result from many observed practices and cautions that if these practices are typical of wider realities and remain unchanged, then serious problems may be propagated across many projects if growth in retrofitting continues as expected. Findings identify factors of quality in retrofits ranging from construction management, training, certification, technology, identity and motivation, and government policy instruments. Emerging from the research is a definition of ‘quality’ against which retrofits can be evaluated. This forms the basis for evaluation of a number of proposed interventions and routes to improved practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: UK domestic solid wall insulation retrofit
Funders: EPSRC, Building Research Establishment (BRE)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 July 2016
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 15:05

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