Demonstration, inspiration … replication? Assessing the impact and limits of social learning from Eco-Homes Open Days in the UK

Panel: Panel 4. Residential and commercial sectors: delivering lower energy use in buildings

Authors:
Jo Hamilton, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Gavin Killip, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Abstract

Between September 2007 and September 2008, communities and organisations across the UK have organised ten area-wide open day events focussing on home eco-renovation and eco-new build, plus a host of single event open days at eco-renovated homes. These have proved extremely popular, with an average of 500 visitors per event, and have provided unrivalled opportunities for social learning about greenhouse gas reductions from eco-renovated and environmental new build houses. They have translated the ‘one size fits all' approach of national energy savings agencies into meaningful and appropriate renovations according to the house type, and brought out the aspiration in insulation.

This paper evaluates the open days and their achievements against the crucial need for step change to the UK's approach to eco-renovation. Is ‘preaching to the converted' a fair criticism, when most of the ‘converted' still need to convert their homes? What else is needed? What barriers and opportunities need to be addressed to ensure interest on the open days translates into action and reduction in CO 2 at home?

The paper considers whether replicating this model could contribute to a greater understanding and uptake of eco-renovation across the UK, the perceived shortcomings, and the opportunities for further development.

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