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Adoption of energy efficiency innovations in new UK housing

Adoption of energy efficiency innovations in new UK housing

Joan Ko(middle) and Dr Dick Fenner(right) receiving their prize

Dr Dick Fenner (Centre for Sustainable Development) and a former Engineering for Sustainable Development MPhil student, Joan Ko (now working for Arup), have been awarded the James Watt Medal for 2009 by the Papers Panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers. This is for their paper entitled "Adoption of energy efficiency innovations in new UK housing" which was recently published in the Institution Proceedings Energy Journal.

The paper responds to the Government's target to provide three million more homes in England by 2020 by examining why developers do not adopt energy efficiency measures more widely. The housing sector is responsible for over a quarter of the nation's total carbon emissions and new targets require all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016. Yet change in the house building industry has been slow and building regulations in England and Wales lag behind energy standards in other European countries. The paper considers the house building industry as a complex socio-technical system made up of many actors who both work together whilst sometimes constraining each other's actions. Through interviews with commercial developers, local and central government bodies, architectural consultancies and housing associations, barriers relating to these actors' willingness, motivation and capacity for change in introducing energy-efficient measures into new build housing were identified. A series of policy responses were proposed to overcome these barriers and these help suggest strategies to drive improved energy performance in UK new build homes. In order to provide a real context to explore the implications of these recommendations, the paper considered how such responses may be integrated into a sustainable new (eco)town development. It concluded that to stimulate innovation, all parts of the socio-technical system need to be influenced by all the mechanisms available to the UK government.

The James Watt Medal is awarded for papers having a substantial mechanical engineering content. The medal, named after James Watt, the Scottish mechanical engineer and inventor who died in 1819, was introduced by Robert Stephenson (President of ICE in 1855-1856) who recommended Council to acquire the dies of the medal from Joseph S Wyon in 1858. This medal is awarded annually currently for the best paper in the Institution Proceedings on energy. The award will be presented to Dick and Joan by the current ICE President, Jean Venables, at the annual ICE awards ceremony on 23rd October.

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