Towards systemic domestic retrofit: A social practices approach

Andrew Karvonen

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The UK housing stock will play an important role in achieving the 2050 national carbon reduction targets. Upgrading the energy performance of the existing housing stock is a significant challenge because retrofit activities are shaped by a wide range of fragmented policies, programmes and actors. Existing approaches to housing retrofit focus on regulations, financial incentives and information provision, but it is argued these are insufficient to realize large-scale, deep changes in energy consumption. An agenda is proposed for systemic domestic retrofit to realize radical changes in the housing stock through community-based partnerships. These programmes are based on a social practices approach that promotes social innovation. Wide-ranging energy-efficiency upgrades can be achieved through the development and realization of customized solutions to local groups of houses through facilitated engagement between occupants, housing providers, community groups, local authorities and construction professionals. Community-based domestic retrofit programmes serve to reframe the governance of household energy performance and suggest alternative routes for realizing significant reductions in energy demand through changes in the socio-technical configuration of materials, competences and images of domestic energy practices. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-574
Number of pages11
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • energy efficiency
  • housing
  • retrofit
  • social practices
  • socio-technical
  • sustainable consumption


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