The Living Well in Low Carbon Homes research team have been exploring the views and experiences of people due to move to Parc Eirin, an innovative low carbon housing estate in South Wales. Speaking to people in the weeks before they move in, our interview discussions have covered current living situations and expectations for their future lives at Parc Eirin. We have found people to be enthusiastic and excited about their involvement in what they see as a ground-breaking development.
The case – Parc Eirin
Parc Eirin is a 15-acre site that when completed will house 225 low carbon homes. Our research focuses on people moving into phase one of the development. The homes for this phase have been developed by Pobl Living and Sero Energy, constructed by Morganstone, with funding from the Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme.
The homes benefit from an energy efficient thermal building envelope, battery storage, electric vehicle charging points and a mix of renewable energy sources, including ground source heat pump and solar panels. A novel characteristic of Parc Eirin is the development of an energy service, Sero Life Platform, which will manage the households’ energy production, consumption and export – balancing the thermal comfort and other energy demands of occupants with carbon or financial signals from the national grid.
Our initial interviews showed people’s enthusiasm for their move to Parc Eirin, with a sense of pride in being part of a housing development perceived as paving the way for future house builds. However, the low carbon elements of the site were of varying significance to people in their decision to move; for some it was a key motivation for choosing this development whilst for others it was a beneficial extra. We found significant variation in people’s understanding of the technologies involved in the homes, which could have implications for how they experience life there once they move in. In addition, all our interviewees had opted for a ‘comfort as a service’ model for their energy payments via Sero Energy service platform. This will be a new approach to energy bills.
Our next steps – moving in
This is just the first stage of our research programme and we will return to speak to people once they have moved into their new homes, to explore their experiences over time. These early interviews have illuminated some important findings for us to take forward. This includes the exploration of the households’ initial experiences of their new homes and how they navigate their energy systems, including their new energy service.
Will this alter any of their pre-existing routines or perceptions of their life in the homes? Can they maintain the elements of their life that are the most important to them? How will they settle into their new home and begin to connect with the house itself and the wider community and place? Parc Eirin is the first of several case sites involved in the Living Well in Low Carbon Homes project and insights from these initial interviews will also help us develop our research in these other areas.
Understanding the experiences of residents will be crucial to informing the wider rollout of low carbon homes. By exploring resident perspectives over time, Living Well in Low Carbon homes is well-placed to offer original policy relevant insights.