A qualitative assessment of the impact of smart homes and environmentally beneficial technologies on the UK 2050 net-zero carbon emission target

Shabha, G. and Barber, F and Laycock, P. (2021) A qualitative assessment of the impact of smart homes and environmentally beneficial technologies on the UK 2050 net-zero carbon emission target. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment. ISSN 2046-6099

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Abstract

Purpose
There are 29 million homes in the UK, accounting for 14% of the UK's energy consumption. This is given that UK has one of the highest water and energy demands in Europe which needs to be addressed according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Smart homes technology holds a current perception that it is principally used by “tech-savvy” users with larger budgets. However, smart home technology can be used to control water, heat and energy in the entire house. This paper investigates how smart home technology could be effectively utilised to aid the UK government in meeting climate change targets and to mitigate the environmental impact of a home in use towards reducing carbon emissions.

Design/methodology/approach
Both primary and secondary data were sought to gain insight into the research problem. An epistemological approach to this research is to use interpretivism to analyse data gathered via a semi-structured survey. Two groups of participants were approached: (1) professionals who are deemed knowledgeable about smart home development and implementation and (2) users of smart home technology. A variety of open-ended questions were formulated, allowing participants to elaborate by exploring issues and providing detailed qualitative responses based on their experience in this area which were interpreted quantitatively for clearer analysis.

Findings
With fossil fuel reserves depleting, there is an urgency for renewable, low carbon energy sources to reduce the 5 tonnes annual carbon emissions from a UK household. This requires a multi-faceted and a multimethod approach, relying on the involvement of both the general public and the government in order to be effective. By advancing energy grids to make them more efficient and reliable, concomitant necessitates a drastic change in the way of life and philosophy of homeowners when contemplating a reduction of carbon emissions. If both parties are able to do so, the UK is more likely to reach its 2050 net-zero carbon goal. The presence of a smart meter within the household is equally pivotal. It has a positive effect of reducing the amount of carbon emissions and hence more need to be installed.

Research limitations/implications
Further research is needed using a larger study sample to achieve more accurate and acceptable generalisations about any future course of action. Further investigation on the specifics of smart technology within the UK household is also needed to reduce the energy consumption in order to meet net-zero carbon 2050 targets due to failures of legislation.

Practical implications
For smart homes manufacturers and suppliers, more emphasis should be placed to enhance compatibility and interoperability of appliances and devices using different platform and creating more user's friendly manuals supported by step-by-step visual to support homeowners in the light of the wealth of knowledge base generated over the past few years. For homeowners, more emphasis should be placed on creating online knowledge management platform easily accessible which provide virtual support and technical advice to home owners to deal with any operational and technical issues or IT glitches. Developing technical design online platform for built environment professionals on incorporating smart sensors and environmentally beneficial technology during early design and construction stages towards achieving low to zero carbon homes.

Originality/value
This paper bridges a significant gap in the body of knowledge in term of its scope, theoretical validity and practical applicability, highlighting the impact of using smart home technology on the environment. It provides an insight into how the UK government could utilise smart home technology in order to reduce its carbon emission by identifying the potential link between using smart home technology and environmental sustainability in tackling and mitigating climate change. The findings can be applied to other building types and has the potential to employ aspects of smart home technology in order to manage energy and water usage including but not limited to healthcare, commercial and industrial buildings.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1108/sasbe-07-2021-0112
Dates:
DateEvent
16 September 2021Accepted
7 December 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: smart home, smart home technology, smart grid
Subjects: CAH13 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01-02 - building
Divisions: Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > School of Engineering and the Built Environment > Integrated Design Construction
Depositing User: Ghasson Shabha
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2022 09:40
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2022 09:40
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13494

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