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Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing: a qualitative system dynamics model

Macmillan, A; Davies, M; Shrubsole, C; Luxford, N; May, N; Chiu, LF; Trutnevyte, E; ... Chalabi, Z; + view all (2016) Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing: a qualitative system dynamics model. Environmental Health , 15 (Suppl 1) , Article 37. 10.1186/s12940-016-0098-z. Green open access

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BACKGROUND: The UK government has an ambitious goal to reduce carbon emissions from the housing stock through energy efficiency improvements. This single policy goal is a strong driver for change in the housing system, but comes with positive and negative "unintended consequences" across a broad range of outcomes for health, equity and environmental sustainability. The resulting policies are also already experiencing under-performance through a failure to consider housing as a complex system. This research aimed to move from considering disparate objectives of housing policies in isolation to mapping the links between environmental, economic, social and health outcomes as a complex system. We aimed to support a broad range of housing policy stakeholders to improve their understanding of housing as a complex system through a collaborative learning process. METHODS: We used participatory system dynamics modelling to develop a qualitative causal theory linking housing, energy and wellbeing. Qualitative interviews were followed by two interactive workshops to develop the model, involving representatives from national and local government, housing industries, non-government organisations, communities and academia. RESULTS: More than 50 stakeholders from 37 organisations participated. The process resulted in a shared understanding of wellbeing as it relates to housing; an agreed set of criteria against which to assess to future policy options; and a comprehensive set of causal loop diagrams describing the housing, energy and wellbeing system. The causal loop diagrams cover seven interconnected themes: community connection and quality of neighbourhoods; energy efficiency and climate change; fuel poverty and indoor temperature; household crowding; housing affordability; land ownership, value and development patterns; and ventilation and indoor air pollution. CONCLUSIONS: The collaborative learning process and the model have been useful for shifting the thinking of a wide range of housing stakeholders towards a more integrated approach to housing. The qualitative model has begun to improve the assessment of future policy options across a broad range of outcomes. Future work is needed to validate the model and increase its utility through computer simulation incorporating best quality data and evidence. Combining system dynamics modelling with other methods for weighing up policy options, as well as methods to support shifts in the conceptual frameworks underpinning policy, will be necessary to achieve shared housing goals across physical, mental, environmental, economic and social wellbeing.

Type: Article
Title: Integrated decision-making about housing, energy and wellbeing: a qualitative system dynamics model
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12940-016-0098-z
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12940-016-0098-z
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Macmillan et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477058
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