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Innovation in deep housing retrofit in the United Kingdom: The role of situated creativity in transforming practice

12 May, 2020

Innovation in deep housing retrofit in the United Kingdom: The role of situated creativity in transforming practice

Robert Lowe

Lai Fong Chiu

Research paper   Decarbonisation of heat

Robert Lowe and Lai Fong Chiu

Abstract

There is widespread agreement that the energy efficiency of existing UK housing will need to be improved significantly, to meet future emissions targets and to support the transformation of the energy system. But there is also a recognition of the problematic nature of innovation in the construction industry. The Retrofit for the Future Programme (RftF) was set up in 2009 to address these challenges. This paper investigates the genesis of innovation in construction through the experiences of seven retrofit project teams selected from the RftF programme. While contemporary social practice theories (SPTs) offer a framework for describing socio-technical phenomena, they are insufficient to provide an account of innovation. The conceptual framing of this exploration is therefore based on embedding the notion of situated creativity posited by the pragmatists into SPTs. Reflective focus group and in-depth individual interview methods were used for data collection. The analysis focused on the problems encountered by the project teams. The key insight is that innovation appears to be situational, emerging in the face of contextual complexity, from a combination of the project teams’ commitment to the goals of the RftF Programme and their willingness to move beyond routine, to confront problems, and re-think and re-negotiate solutions. Implications of this insight for Social Practice Theory and methodology for investigation of retrofit innovation are discussed.

Publication details

Lowe, R. and Chiu, L.F. 2020. Innovation in deep housing retrofit in the United Kingdom: The role of situated creativity in transforming practice. Energy Research & Social Science, 63: 101391. doi: Opens in a new tab10.1016/j.erss.2019.101391

Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash

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