Using well-honed data to target domestic energy efficiency programmes and campaigns in Suffolk

Author: 04/12/2015

Suffolk County Council has an ambition to reduce its carbon emissions by 60% by 2025, and recognises that investment in the region’s housing stock will be vital to hitting this target. As an essential first step, the National Energy Foundation was appointed to develop a housing stock database. This provides the basis of a detailed understanding of both the physical characteristics of the region’s housing as well as the socio-economic circumstances of its residents - information that is crucial in helping to design and appropriately target domestic energy efficiency programmes and campaigns.

With the Ordnance Survey AddressBase address list for the region and a 40% EPC sample at its core, the Suffolk Housing Stock Database identifies at an individual property address level the built characteristics and energy performance of housing for a variety of geographical scales from property address up to district/borough level. This data is then cross referenced with Mosaic householder data from Experian, thus offering insight into not only the stock, its energy efficiency performance and upgrade potential but also an appreciation of each household’s tenure and socio-economic status.

Database key features

  • 310,000 addresses with individual property level insight into built characteristics and energy efficiency performance for all homes.
  • 140,000 Energy Performance Certificate records as well as information from Land Registry, Xoserve, Census, Defra and also council-supplied information such as conservation and listed building status and managed stock data.
  • Experian Mosaic socio-economic householder data mapped to all address points providing insight into householder demographics, financial circumstances, health and well-being and accessibility.
  • 25 detailed archetype models mapped to the full stock, projecting the baseline energy performance for properties where an EPC is not present.
  • Improvement upgrade packages modelled for all properties, indicating potential energy and CO2 savings as well as resident fuel bill savings and required investment estimates.
  • User interface that allows all data to be searched, filtered and reported upon at all geographical levels – output area, Lower Super Output Area (LSOA), ward, local authority, town, postcode.
  • The facility to search and review in isolation non-address level data such as LSOA and Output Area level statistics.

Initial three aims of the project

  • Collate all the available Suffolk housing stock data.
  • Provide an address-level database for the whole of Suffolk county, to support mailshot activities.
  • Identify the scale of opportunities to mitigate fuel poverty, reduce domestic energy consumption and deliver CO2 emission savings.

The National Energy Foundation’s work is all about empowering organisations to act and make lasting impact. Cross-cutting databases such as this can revolutionise the way in which funding is sought and investment programmes are developed and delivered.

Exciting applications

With no directly managed housing stock of its own, Suffolk County Council’s commissioning of the Housing Stock Database was motivated by its drive to effectively tackle fuel poverty across the region, as well as to ensure that investment in existing housing is appropriately directed to help meet its 2025 carbon emission reduction goals.

For the first time, the database offers Suffolk comprehensive insight into all housing in the region – to a level far beyond traditional sample-based stock condition surveys. Whilst this obviously has immediate benefits in terms of targeting energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction programmes, wider uses and benefits include:

  • Informing the application for, and targeting of, funding to support investment in energy efficiency measures.
  • Supporting the work of the council’s Housing and Public Health teams to deliver plans and programmes that aim to reduce the health effects associated with cold and poor quality housing.
  • Identification of vulnerable and fuel poor households as well as the potential energy efficiency measures that will benefit them.
  • Improved housing-related dialogue and activity in conjunction with other key stakeholders in the region, including other local councils, landlords and social housing providers.
  • Targeting of other services and behaviour change campaigns related to housing and residents, including recycling and composting, planning and building control, housing regulation enforcement and also welfare and mobility.

Following the project, the council and its partners can now design energy efficiency publicity campaigns for a targeted audience and which have more effective and tailored messages. For example, Public Health Suffolk is now working on a specific first-time central heating scheme to identify households most affected by fuel poverty, and can use the database to identify properties of a particular type, age and heating system.