EFI Research Award: Housing Associations and Digital Innovation

Project Details


How can digital data help housing associations to reduce fuel poverty? The social housing sector wants to understand how digital innovation can offer business and tenant value - in reducing running costs and providing more affordable homes. Social housing associations deal with a complex range of factors, but their priorities are to reduce fuel poverty and provide quality homes to people on low incomes. The aim is to explore the role that data has for interactions between the housing associations, the tenants and the buildings. Data could be used to alert support services when a tenant has not turned their heating on. Data could be used to predict when pre-emptive action and advice is needed to avert a boiler repair. Data could be used to with community groups to help share energy between individuals in their homes. Data could be used to identify homes with building construction more likely to lead to fuel poverty. This project will explore the complex and fragmented landscape of data in the context of the big issues facing housing associations. It will co-design and test solutions using the data to address fuel poverty.

Layman's description

Housing associations are responsible for providing housing to some of the most vulnerable members of society. Social housing exists to provide affordable homes for those on low incomes but almost a quarter (140,000 households) find themselves living in fuel poverty (Scottish House Condition Survey 2017). With rising energy costs, and many existing buildings with very poor energy performance there are no obvious solutions to this financially crippling situation. Housing associations are challenged to support their social tenants but struggle to deal with this societal issue due to enormous financial constraints. Overtime housing is being thermally upgraded, but not to a high enough level to eradicate fuel poverty. This is primarily due to the external factor of energy cost inflation. In the oft quoted work by Janda (2011) "Buildings Don’t Use Energy: People Do". The challenge lies with how people live in the homes, and make use of energy effectively. This project seeks to address the way that data could have a role in reducing fuel poverty when other avenues have been exhausted. This project is novel as it addresses the holistic context of fuel poverty including social housing provider, the building and the tenant and seeks to find tangible steps to reduce the worrying fuel poverty reality of so many peoples' lives. The PI is currently working with the SFHA (Scottish Federation of Housing Associations) on the 'Home of the Future' project, as one of the innovation teams developing new ideas and approaches to housing in Scotland. This has revealed a sector wide challenge to respond to digital data and find new ways of working with it to deliver benefits to all sizes of organisations and the tenants they serve. The EFI project would be used to leverage further funding through the Construction and DataLab Innovation centres
Effective start/end date29/04/191/11/19


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.