The Active Building Centre Research Programme wants to determine the social well-being benefits from living in low and zero carbon homes. It is vital, if we are to achieve net zero carbon, that we fully understand how low carbon technologies impact behaviours and daily practices of residents in existing homes and the associated behaviour changes, adaptations, and motivations behind moving to a low emission home. The team has developed a well-being assessment framework to capture potential social, well-being, financial and health improvements.
The research is looking at the ways in which low carbon buildings modify occupant energy behaviours and practices, and potentially benefit occupants both financially and socially. The Active Building Centre Research Programme are not only interested in the benefits of living in a low carbon home, but they are also measuring the potential impact on entire communities.
The research is feeding into future policy and design to ensure that people’s needs are at the heart of this changing landscape.
This long-term, evidence-based research is being conducted via a series of interviews, surveys, and diaries over the course of the project at different case study sites around south Wales. These strands are looking at both newly built low and zero carbon homes, and existing homes being retrofitted with carbon reducing technologies. These two complementary research strands are led by Cardiff and Swansea Universities.
Dr Kate O’Sullivan and Dr Fiona Shirani of Cardiff University will be leading our study of resident perspectives ‘Living Well in Low Carbon Homes’. This research will explore how people experience life in a low carbon home, including dealing with new technologies and ways of paying for energy, whether the homes influence lifestyles and energy use as well as broader experiences of life in a new community. The Living Well in Low Carbon Homes team will interview residents on multiple occasions to explore how their experiences may change and develop over time.
Dr Deborah Morgan and Dr Carol Maddock, researchers in the Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University will be exploring whether living in a new low carbon home brings health, social and financial well-being benefits. The team are distributing questionnaires targeting new and future occupants of low emissions homes, with repeated visits between now and 2022 used to quantify benefits from living in low emissions homes and communities.
The Active Building Centre Research Programme has also established a Healthy Aging expert advisory group and carried out studies on health, fuel poverty, social and wellbeing benefits to complement academic research activities.