COVID-HAB - COVID-19 confinement, housing and habitability

COVID-HAB - COVID-19 confinement, housing and habitability

National project

Due to the global circumstance, caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the consequent health crisis, and more specifically, by the State of Alarm, the Spanish population was forced to confine itself to its homes. Many citizens, in addition, were forced to telework at home, among other atypical tasks.

This situation could promote different ways of relating to the cohabitants in a specific spatial context that is the shared home.

For this reason, the opportunity arose to study, from a technical and sociological context, the relationship between people and the space where Spanish households lived and where they carried out all their tasks: housing.

Some questions raised by the COVID-HAB - COVID-19 confinement, housing and habitability study were:

  • Exploring the qualities of the dwellings and the degree of adaptation (flexibility, resilience) to which they were subjected due to circumstances,
  • Analysing the value of having a good work space in the home, or spaces open to the outside, such as terraces or patios\
  • Understanding the habitability conditions (indoor air quality, spaces, noise and cold insulation, comfort conditions, among others), and new energy consumption habits, possibly distorted with respect to daily customs, and the perception of comfort, taking into account the emotional load they were subjected to
  • Studying the possible improvements in habitability under extreme conditions of confinement, as well as the population's saving strategies to compensate for higher total energy consumption in the household in such circumstances.

From this study, in relation to the Social Determinants of Health (WHO), very valuable information were obtained from the different stakeholders. The analysis and dissemination of the results can help to prepare homes to better adapt to similar situations in the future, offering a greater degree of flexibility or resilience, without reducing safety, habitability and health issues in the face of situations that alter their spatial and functional conformation.

This is why the relevance of the study is justified, to provide scientific and technical knowledge, doing "Citizen Science", about a very unusual sociological phenomenon, as well as its contribution to the development of future housing design and rehabilitation strategies, or other contributions that currently are not considered.

No local entity was involved in the project. It was a good practice since no studies during COVID-19 pandemic obtained such level of data from homes related to perceived comfort, energy expenditures, energy patterns and consumption, and other practices compared to a pre-COVID-19 context.

As a key performance indicator (KPI), 1800 surveys were realised and collected data on:

  • socio-demographic characteristics.
  • household composition.
  • housing features.
  • Habit changes.
  • compared use of appliances, DHW and HVAC services.
  • energy vectors for any service.
  • compared energy expenditures (before and during COVID), indicated by % over the household incomes.
  • expectations for housing change.
  • indoor environmental quality perception.

The project started in 2020 and was completed in 2021.

It was led by the public research entity, the Spanish National Research Council.

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