Achieving deep carbon emission reductions in existing social housing: The case of Peabody




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


As part of the UK’s effort to combat climate change, deep reductions in carbon emissions will be required from existing social housing. This thesis explores the viability of achieving such a goal through a case-study approach, focusing on Peabody, a large housing association operating in London.

A model was developed for Peabody’s existing housing stock that quantifies the impacts of technical carbon reduction interventions on stock carbon emissions, Peabody’s expenditure and residents’ fuel bills for the period up to 2030. A participant observation study, conducted from 2006 to 2009, explored the impact of contextual factors influencing the viability of Peabody carrying out the considered technical interventions. The model study found that the Greater London Authority’s target of achieving 60% emission cuts by 2025 could be achieved, but only through extensive stock refurbishment, including a widespread use of solid wall insulation. An external context of substantial reductions in the carbon intensity of the national grid and constrained resident demand for energy is also required. Even where considerable financial support for refurbishment from Government was assumed, the model provided evidence of a funding gap of tens of millions of pounds which would need to be bridged if the required measures were to be carried out.

The participant observation study found that the prohibitive cost of carrying out carbon reduction measures is the key barrier currently holding back progress. Other significant issues are related to Government policy, including the inability to raise income from residents to offset refurbishment spending, and the lack of a long term framework to drive action to reduce emissions from existing UK housing.

By coupling an analysis of technical interventions with analysis of their financial and political viability, this thesis demonstrates that the achievement of deep emission cuts from Peabody’s existing stock is certainly possible, but requires changes in Government policy and increased efforts from all stakeholders concerned if it is to come to pass.



domestic energy efficiency, existing social housing, climate change, carbon emissions, economic assessment, scenarios, United Kingdom


Reeves, A. (2009) Achieving deep carbon emission reductions in existing social housing: The case of Peabody


Research Institute

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)