Under one roof : the social relations and relational work of energy retrofit for the occupants of multi-owned properties

Cairns, Iain and Hannon, M. and Owen, A. and Bookbinder, R. and Brisbois, M-C. and Brown, D. and Davis, M. and Middlemiss, L. and Mininni, G.M. and Combe, M. (2024) Under one roof : the social relations and relational work of energy retrofit for the occupants of multi-owned properties. Energy Policy, 190. 114166. ISSN 0301-4215 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2024.114166)

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In the UK a significant proportion of Multi-Owned Properties (MoPs) – characterised by buildings segmented into individually owned flats – must undergo retrofitting to achieve net zero emissions. Despite this requirement, advancement has been minimal, with existing government policy failing to consider a pivotal role of social dynamics among residents in the retrofit decision-making process. This research adopts an innovative perspective grounded in relational sociology, leveraging Viviana A. Zelizer's concept of ‘relational work’ and integrating two of the three types of social relations identified by Hargreaves and Middlemiss' (intimacy and institutions) to dissect the retrofit challenges faced by owners of historic MoPs in South Glasgow, UK. The study reveals that the necessity for heightened relational work among property owners acts as a barrier to retrofit initiative. Nevertheless, it identifies potential pathway to invigorate the retrofit sector by enhancing neighbourly connections and recognising the influential, yet underexplored, role of property managers in facilitating retrofit activities within MoPs. This inquiry not only underscores the significance of social relations in environmental retrofit projects but also suggests a re-evaluation of policy frameworks to accommodate the social intricacies inherent in MoPs, thereby fostering a more conducive environment for achieving net-zero targets.