Business models to accelerate uptake of domestic heat efficiency and decarbonisation measures

Carus, Chris and Roberts, Jen (2020) Business models to accelerate uptake of domestic heat efficiency and decarbonisation measures. Masters thesis, University Of Strathclyde.

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Decarbonising the heating of existing residential buildings is a key sustainability challenge. Improving building thermal efficiency is a low regrets approach: reducing the capacity and cost of required new renewable sources and reducing fuel poverty. However, retrofitting energy efficient measures in the owner-occupier sector is difficult, facing challenges of low homeowner engagement, high costs and disruption. This dissertation applied case study methodology to consider how business model innovation can accelerate energy efficiency and decarbonisation retrofit implementation in an area of south Glasgow, UK. Using an established conceptual framework of retrofit business models, this research applied an exploratory case study approach to examine drivers and barriers to retrofit in a specific physical and social context. Findings were synthesised in an outline business model suitable to the case study area. Semi-structured interviews with professionals were used to strengthen the transferability of conclusions. Current homeowner decision making was found to be focussed on cost and payback. The potential value of improved comfort may be underestimated by homeowners, especially by occupants of traditional constructions. Coronavirus ‘work from home’ policies have changed younger homeowner attitudes towards home heating improvements. Homeowners indicate interest in advanced, independent and personalised energy assessment. Previous research into the importance of interpersonal trust was reinforced with the discovery of an online social media group with a strong local influence on tradesperson selection. An innovative business model is proposed in response to the case study findings. Policy recommendations are put forward, with particular relevance to emergent minimum energy efficiency standards for the owner-occupier sector. Further research needs are identified.