Housing for the information age

Housing for the information age

This is a report of work by the Housing Forum on the application of information-age digital technologies with the potential to improve the quality and value of housing by harnessing consumer pull. A system of Home Performance Labelling is proposed to kick-start the process.

The digital age has transformed consumers' experience in all aspects of life, from the way we shop, listen to music, work and communicate. But digital technology is yet to impact on housing and the house building industry, or help drive energy efficiency – one of the biggest challenges facing the building stock.

Aggregate Industries have been involved on the working party who have prepared and drawn up the report - submitted for your comments please.

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Monday, 14th October 2013

Ben Hopkins, Bennetts Associates

Presented as a website, making it incredibly easy to navigate and read, the report puts forward quite a few issues and potential solutions to developing a more sustainable housing market. The suggestion of including areas within a Home Performance Label is interesting as a way of enabling more consumer choice, but without an easy comparison method or benchmarking it’s hard to know if this would lead to a more enlightened consumer. Perhaps linking it to benchmarking statistics found in the RIBA Case for Space, or even providing interpretation via an app or website such as RIBA Homewise would allow the benefits to be felt from this proposal.

There are also numerous references to customisation, which is an interesting idea, but would have to be considered against the impact of changes in fenestration, internal layout, materials etc on environmental performance. An option could be to have a patternbook of tested forms and layouts, which could be developed. In 2008 this was considered when UEL ran an interesting experiment on Enabled Self Procurement methodology using Architect Designed patternbooks and an online tool to allow simulated customers to develop their house. Technology and user expectations may have caught up with the idea, but it would be interesting to see if it could ever displace volume house builders on any significant scale.


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