What happened to the outside? Exploring the role of ‘nature’ in household retrofits

31 May 2021

This is project is funded by FPRN as part of the EPEC programme for early career 2020-21 round.

This project explores the intersections between household retrofit, energy vulnerability and local environments. Trees, other plants, the weather and climate are central actors influencing urban health, wellbeing and equity, the thermal performance of housing and the adaptive capacities of householders in response to extreme weather. Yet the role of these environmental elements in energy vulnerability and retrofit remains under-explored. This project investigates how placing trees and plants, climate and heat, more firmly into discussions of household retrofit and fuel poverty might inform policy and practice.

‘I am extremely grateful to be awarded this grant by the Fuel Poverty Research Network. It will help me extend my research into human-nature relations and their implications for just urban transitions.’  

‘The Fuel Poverty Research Network’s support has enabled me to pursue a small project on the place of local environmental elements such as summer heat, trees and animals in household decarbonisation. While retrofit research is moving beyond a technological focus to explore human social dynamics, nature is still often side-lined from these discussions. With the FPRN’s support, I’ve explored summer heat in Australia as one elemental force influencing vulnerable households’ ability to retrofit their homes and adapt to climate change. I’ve presented early insights about the temporal dissonance of summer heat at the RGS-IBG annual conference. The research is emphasising the importance of energy governance that considers human-nature relations as both shaping and fundamental to everyday life of homemaking, of which retrofit is a part.’

Sarah Robertson, RMIT University
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House with trees in front
Report to funder: What happened to the outside? (pdf)
Sarah Robertson

Sarah provides a summary of her research on the role of nature in household retrofits, including implications and recommendations.