A unique collaboration between believe housing and a group of students from the Royal College of Art has created a new approach to improving the environmental performance of homes.
Five students have taken an in-depth view of how best to ensure that believe housing customers are at the heart of introducing new, environmentally focused technology into existing homes. Their research found that most customers were more concerned by the direct financial benefits of reducing energy than the longer-term environmental impacts.
They also found that customers were more receptive to repairs being carried out in their home, rather than substantial upgrades like the installation of air source heat pumps, or external wall insulation.
After extensive research and consultation with believe housing customers, the students devised a new ‘radical care’ approach to environmental upgrade. The approach treats the work as a ‘radical repair’ and looks to minimise disruption.
Key to the approach is providing a truly personalised service for every customer who is receiving new technology.
Strategic Assets Business Leader at believe housing, Samantha Tullock, said: “Upgrading existing homes to improve their environmental performance is a challenge that’s the same across the country. But we didn’t want to be the same as everyone else; that’s why we got the Royal College of Art students involved.
“Their research helped us to fully understand the reasons that some customers weren’t keen to take part in the kind of substantial changes their homes need to make them suitable for a low-carbon future.
“The students helped to reinforce that for most of our customers, their energy bills are a very substantial part of their monthly spend. So rather than talking to customers about long-term environmental benefits, we need to be able to provide information on how air source heat pumps, for example, could save them money almost straight away.”