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 Shuye Wang

Shuye Wang

Research student, Welsh School of Architecture


Oct/ 2019 - present, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.

Jun/ 2019, graduated from School of Urban Design, Wuhan University, China. MArch

Jun/ 2015, graduated from School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, China. BArch



A Community-based Approach to Promote Energy Retrofit of Rural-housings in China

China is a large energy consumer in the building sector. Rural buildings in China occupy an important place in the total building energy use. 90% of buildings in the rural area are owner-occupied dwellings. Due to a long life span and a low rate of replacement, it is essential to address the high energy consumption of existing rural housings. There are successful pilot projects led by the governments to retrofit existing rural housings. However, the majority of rural residents still hesitate to take energy-retrofit actions. It is hard to realize a continuous energy renovation of rural buildings on a large scale.

Energy renovation in China is implemented through a conventional top-down procedure with governments playing a dominate role with large subsidies. Under this model, on-going research can be classified into three groups: policy support, marketing strategies and energy-retrofit measures. They are of great value but are insufficient to promote energy renovations in Chinese rural area with the challenges from various aspects. For example, energy-efficient measures are optimized to provide higher performance at a lower cost. But a lack of professional guidance at the operation stage as well as a general design without full consideration of rural residents’ living reality contributes to a performance gap and further discourages rural energy retrofits.

While resident participation shows its significance in energy renovation in many studies. It not only develops the design and technology but also promotes a large scale of renovation with a community-based approach. Community-based energy projects are proved to be effective in overcoming barriers to adoption and increasing participation. But very few research can be found in China discussing the connection between residents’ participation and energy retrofits.

Rural housings in China have a strong self-built basis. And in the post-occupancy stage, homeowners retrofit their homes in their daily life to satisfy changing needs and actively share this experience with each other. This self-initiated construction mechanism has been noticed by Chinese researchers and architects now. Furthermore, Chinese social scientific research argues that residents’ participation and self-organization are crucial to the sustainable development of the rural community. To achieve energy retrofits on a large scale, approaches need to be explored activating rural residents’ participation.

Therefore, this research aims to explore the possibility of adopting a bottom-up approach in rural-housing energy retrofits, examine the benefits, downsides, barriers and drives involved in a community-based energy retrofit. Guanting village, China is selected as the case study area. In the fieldwork, In-situ measurement and thermal imaging is to be conducted to get geometric and physical information of the housing. Besides,semi-structured interviews, together with Building Use Studies questionnaires, observation and daily logging methods are used with homeowners. Content analysis will be conducted to analyze the interviews with specific software, following the proposed theoretical framework. Lastly, a cost-optimal analysis of self-led energy retrofits is done with computer simulation.

This research can potentially contribute to widespread retrofits leading to a deep change in saving energy, cutting carbon emissions. Theoretically, current community-based approach that has been practised in other countries will be rethought and improved. Practically, this research will be helpful to governments, professionals and other stakeholders in planning and managing community-based energy renovations.

Funding source

China Scholarship Council


Clarice Bleil de Souza

Professor Clarice Bleil De Souza

Chair in Design Decision-Making


Dr Oleg Golubchikov

Reader in Human Geography, Director of Postgraduate Research