Urban retrofit: pressures, policy and people in domestic retrofit at the city level
, PhD thesis, University of Salford.
This thesis adopts a socio-technical approach to studying the issues and responses around domestic retrofit. Firstly it examines the broad drivers around domestic retrofit, ranging from climate change to energy security and fuel poverty, to the impacts of neoliberalisation and the economic crisis. It also explores the particular social, technical and political pressures upon this issue in urban contexts, exploring issues such as interurban competition, urban governance and experimentation, as well as their interaction with the specific socio-technical challenges of domestic retrofit. It then explores how this problem has been approached by UK policy through a combination of marketization, technical specificity and localised delivery.
Empirically, it employs a comparative case study approach using three domestic retrofit responses in three different cities in England to explore the range of responses that have emerged from this policy climate and the different forms and effects that these can have. These included a householder co-operative in Manchester, a multi-stakeholder business co-operative in Birmingham, and a council-led scheme in Bristol. It explores how each of these responses is, in its own way, experimental and contingent, involving an assemblage of actors and factors ranging from the macro level, through the meso, city-regional level, to the micro-or-individual level, which create a time and place-specific response with a particular set of priorities, activities and outcomes.
It then explains that it is both horizontal, local relationships, and vertical relationships with factors and actors at the macro and micro levels that affect the case studies’ form and orientation. It shows how the policy context can both enable and limit change and learning from localised projects, by supporting certain aspects such as funding particular technologies, but not others such as consistent finance and subsidy. It concludes with some reflections for retrofit policymakers and some possibilities for further research in the topic.
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