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      Decarbonising Existing Homes in Wales: A Participatory Behavioural Systems Mapping Approach

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            Background: To reduce carbon emissions, urgent change is needed to high-carbon human behaviours including home energy use. Previous policy failures point to insufficient use and integration of systemic and behavioural approaches to bring about change. A novel behavioural systems mapping approach was used to inform national policy recommendations for energy-saving retrofit of homes in Wales.

            Method: Three participatory workshops were held with the independent Welsh residential decarbonisation advisory group (‘the Advisory Group’) to (1) map relationships between actors, behaviours and influences on behaviour within the home retrofit system, (2) provide training in the Behaviour Change Wheel framework (3) use these to develop policy recommendations for interventions. Recommendations were analysed using the COM-B (capability, opportunity, motivation) model of behaviour to assess whether they addressed these factors.

            Results: Two behavioural systems maps were produced, representing privately rented and owner-occupied housing tenures. The main causal pathways and feedback loops in each map are described. Necessary interventions to achieve national-scale retrofit included: government-led investment, campaigns and awareness-building, financial-sector funding mechanisms, enforcement of regulations, and creating more streamlined and trusted supply chain services. Of 27 final policy recommendations, 6 addressed capability, 22 opportunity, and 12 motivation.

            Conclusions: Participatory behavioural systems mapping can be used in conjunction with behaviour change frameworks to develop policy recommendations that address the behavioural determinants of complex environmental problems. Research is underway to refine and extend the approach through application to other sustainability challenges and methods of constructing systems maps.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            24 January 2022
            [1 ] Centre for Behaviour Change, University College London
            [2 ] Welsh Government’s independent advisory group on residential decarbonisation
            Author notes
            Author information

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            : 24 January 2022

            The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
            General behavioral science
            energy, decarbonisation, retrofit, behaviour change, complexity, systems thinking, participatory systems mapping, policy,Environmental policy and practice,Public policymaking,Sustainability in architecture and the built environment,Energy and policy,Sustainability


            Date: 5 April 2022

            Handling Editor: Prof Dan Osborn

            Editorial decision: Request revision. The Handling Editor requested revisions; the article has been returned to the authors to make this revision.

            2022-04-11 16:13 UTC

            Date: 25 January 2022

            Handling Editor: Prof Dan Osborn

            This article is a preprint article and has not been peer-reviewed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment for open peer review.

            2022-01-25 14:41 UTC

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