Low-carbon retrofits in social housing: Energy efficiency, multidimensional energy poverty, and domestic comfort strategies in southern Europe - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Energy Research & Social Science Year : 2022

Low-carbon retrofits in social housing: Energy efficiency, multidimensional energy poverty, and domestic comfort strategies in southern Europe

Social housing providers have a significant amount of influence over large housing stocks, which gives them unique opportunities to address both energy efficiency and social inclusion. However, there are significant barriers to achieving these goals in southern European contexts, where obsolete housing stocks and widespread energy poverty situations combine to create a “prebound effect”, whereby residents consume less energy than in projections of standardised patterns, thus invalidating models based on energy efficiency gains and energy production. This paper uses empirical findings from interviews with social housing providers in the metropolitan areas of Porto [Portugal] and Barcelona [Spain] to understand how this contradiction is being handled in the sector, and compares the findings with surveys of the nature and depth of energy poverty situations in a broadly defined social housing sector. Our results show that social housing providers tend to favour strategies based on retrofitting the envelopes of the buildings, and to resist installing renewable energy equipment, for which cost recoupment is near-unachievable. We argue that this focus on achieving thermal comfort by passive measures overlooks the multidimensionality of energy poverty situations in the social housing sector, with widespread practices of restrictions on cooking, lighting and DHW uses.

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hal-03456394 , version 1 (05-01-2024)

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Attribution - NonCommercial

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Lise Desvallées. Low-carbon retrofits in social housing: Energy efficiency, multidimensional energy poverty, and domestic comfort strategies in southern Europe. Energy Research & Social Science, 2022, 85, pp.102413. ⟨10.1016/j.erss.2021.102413⟩. ⟨hal-03456394⟩
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