Exploring the Impacts of Personalisation on Thermal Efficiency of Chilean Social Housing

Victor Bunster, Waldo Bustamante, Rodrigo Garcia, Masa Noguchi, Thomas Kvan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


The Chilean social housing program is a highly structured system of incentives and rules that although successful in meeting quantitative goals has neglected the quality of its outcomes. Over time, initiatives based upon user participation and self-help action have been disregarded to favour the efficiency of a housing delivery system in which mass production makes addressing diversity problematic, while an emphasis on the rapid delivery of a large number of units has abstracted the attributes of the developments from the requirements of the target households. Nonetheless, self-construction is ubiquitous among these estates, used as informal means to adjust the attributes of the built environment to the diverse needs and expectations of its occupants. The main objective of this study is to assess the potential impacts that such personalisation strategies can have on the residential quality of the dwellings, with a particular focus on one of the worst rated factors, i.e., their inadequate thermal performance. Accordingly, an on-site survey conducted on four housing developments of Concepción, central-southern Chile, was used to identify recurrent personalisation approaches to later evaluate the impacts of these modifications on thermal comfort and energy consumption. Overall, the results of this study evidence that common residential modifications such as extensions, subdivisions and change of envelope materials can have a strong impact on the thermal performance capabilities of the dwellings. Furthermore, it is shown that differences that may be subtle in spatial terms can have strong impacts on potential energy consumption for space heating, hence on the life quality of the occupants. It is suggested that the introduction of expert knowledge through information-support systems focused on assisting self-help action may be a suitable approach to ensure housing quality within the limits of affordability at different stages of the dwellings’ life cycles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationZEMCH 2018 International Conference: Proceedings
EditorsHing-wah Chau, Cynthia dos S. Hentschke
Place of PublicationMelbourne Vic Australia
PublisherZEMCH Network
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780734054869
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventZEMCH 2018 International Conference - Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 29 Jan 20181 Feb 2018


ConferenceZEMCH 2018 International Conference
Internet address


  • personalisation
  • energy efficiency
  • thermal performance
  • social housing
  • Chile

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