Phillipa Watson

UTAS Home Dr Phillipa Watson

Phillipa Watson

Research Fellow

Room 407, Social Sciences Building, Sandy Bay Campus

+61 3 6226 7228 (phone)

+61 3 6226 2864 (fax)

Dr Phillipa Watson is a Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences Housing and Community Research Unit (HACRU).  In her career Phillipa has explored ways to transition towards more sustainable built environments. With this intent Phillipa has worked in building design, building life cycle assessment, sustainability facilitation during design and construction, decision making tool development and research.  In research Phillipa has explored issues related to housing and sustainability policy issues; decision making for sustainability; adaptation and transition; housing quality; homemaking; and, community change. Currently at UTAS she is investigating a novel approach to supporting energy efficiency change in households living in a low income community in Tasmania.


Phillipa has worked as a designer; as an integrated solutions coordinator working with built environment professionals at Brisbane City Council; at CSIRO with the sustainable building team developing a life cycle based design assessment tool; as a sustainability consultant in private practice; and, in research investigating how to support sustainability in built environments and in people's practices.

Career summary


DegreeTitle of ThesisUniversityCountryAwarded
PhDDwelling adaptation for sustainability: Improving interventions for energy efficiency, comfort and equity in TasmaniaUniversity of TasmaniaAustralia2013
BArch (Hons)Materials Investigation: A Built Environment Tool for AustraliaUniversity of QueenslandAustralia1999


Housing policy; design; sustainability; decision making; adaptation and transition; dwelling; housing quality; homemaking; housing disadvantage; household experiences; dwelling practices; community change

View more on Dr Phillipa Watson in WARP


  • Sustainable built environments
  • Sustainability
  • Adaptation
  • Design
  • Decision-making
  • Behaviour change
  • Housing adaptation and transition
  • Healthy housing
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Housing policy
  • Dwelling
  • Housing stock quality
  • Housing disadvantage
  • Fuel poverty
  • Dwelling practices Community engagement

Research Themes

Phillipa's research aligns with the University's research themes of 'Environment, Resources and Sustainability', 'Better Health' and 'Data, Knowledge and Decisions'. In research Phillipa is interested in progressing understanding of how to make change to housing and our built environments so that people can live sustainably.  Her research has looked at issues related to housing and sustainability policy-making; decision making for sustainability; adaptation and transition; housing quality; homemaking; housing disadvantage; household experiences; and, community change.

She is currently involved in a large 3 year research project 'Get Bill Smart' investigating the outcomes of support given to low income householders to make energy efficient changes. 'Get Bill Smart' trials an innovative, community capacity-building approach to the implementation of energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households in Tasmania. The project aims to improve householder engagement and education levels regarding energy efficiency and to empower low-income households to be more energy efficient. This project is part of the exciting federally funded Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP) which, through a variety of projects around Australia, intends to progress understanding of the most effective ways to encourage energy efficient change in Australia's low income housing communities. Before this project at UTAS Phillipa worked on a longitudinal study of Tasmanian households called 'Dwelling adaptation for Sustainability: Improving interventions for energy efficiency, comfort and equity in Tasmania' and a national housing project called 'The Environmental Sustainability of Australia's Private Rental Housing Stock'.


Phillipa has extensive experience working on collaborative projects that involve multiple organisations. The project Get Bill Smart is based on a consortium from UTAS, Mission Australia and Sustainable Living Tasmania. All her previous research projects have required collaboration with other research institutions and government organisations. Phillipa was also previously involved with a cooperative research centre with partners from research, government and commercial organisations.


  • 2011: Bursary to attend Early Career Researchers Conference with Australian Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Settlements and Infrastructure
  • 2010: Bursary to attend Early Career Researchers Conference with Australian Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Settlements and Infrastructure
  • 2005: Marketing Award for Financing and Innovation in Growth (FIG) Course for investigation into commercialization of research.
  • 2004: CSIRO Team Award for excellence in research for the LCADesign assessment tool.
  • 2003: 2nd prize Thuringowa Climatic Responsive Housing Design Competition group design.

Current projects

Get Bill Smart is trialling an innovative, community capacity-building approach to the implementation of energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households. The aim is to improve householder engagement and education levels regarding energy efficiency and to empower low-income households to be more energy efficient. This community capacity-building approach will be compared with a more conventional approach of in-home education and upgrades, a combination of the two approaches, and a control group that does not receive direct support through the project. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with Sustainable Living Tasmania and Mission Australia. The research component of the project is investigating: the effects of the two energy efficiency support approaches taken; the trade-offs householders make between comfort and energy efficiency; and, what is entailed in executing the two energy efficiency support approaches trialled. Results for this project will be available in the first half of 2016.

Fields of Research

  • Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology (160808)
  • Social Policy (160512)
  • Architectural Science and Technology (incl. Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design) (120104)
  • Interior Design (120106)
  • Urban Design (120508)
  • Built Environment and Design (129999)
  • Environment Policy (160507)
  • Human Geography (160499)
  • Housing Markets, Development, Management (120503)
  • Social and Cultural Geography (160403)
  • Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning) (160404)
  • Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
  • Urban Policy (160514)
  • Public Administration (160509)
  • Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
  • Research, Science and Technology Policy (160511)
  • Secondary Education (130106)
  • Higher Education (130103)

Research Objectives

  • Residential Building Management and Services (870503)
  • Energy Services and Utilities (850601)
  • Environmentally Sustainable Energy Activities (859899)
  • Residential Construction Design (870204)
  • Residential Construction Processes (870404)
  • Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society (970116)
  • Residential Energy Conservation and Efficiency (850704)
  • Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability (960311)
  • Construction (879999)
  • Public Services Policy Advice and Analysis (940204)
  • Environmentally Sustainable Construction (879899)
  • Expanding Knowledge in Technology (970110)
  • Social Ethics (950407)
  • Consumption Patterns, Population Issues and the Environment (960702)
  • Education and Training Systems (930599)
  • Health Status (e.g. Indicators of Well-Being) (920408)
  • Energy Transformation (850499)
  • Renewable Energy (850599)
  • Teaching and Instruction Technologies (930203)
  • Pedagogy (930201)


Phillipa has published on a variety of topics including: housing policy, energy efficiency, housing disadvantage, housing practices for sustainability, and adapting housing.  Recently she has contributed to Indoor Built Environment, Housing and Theory and Urban Policy and Research journals.

Selected references:

Watson, P. Gabriel, M. Rooney, M. 2015 Get Bill Smart: Trialling a community-partnership approach to supporting low income households to achieve home energy savings. Indoor Built Environment.

Watson, P, Mitchell, P and Jones, D. 2003 'Environmental Assessment for commercial buildings: Stakeholder Requirements and Tool Characteristics', 2001-006-B-01, for the LCADesign Project, CRC for Construction Innovation, Brisbane.

Watson, Phillipa and Watson, Steve 2005 'AN 13.01.700 Building Health' and 'AN 13.01.800 Indoor Air Quality' RAIA Practice Notes

Total publications


Journal Article

(6 outputs)
2019Lovell H, Watson P, 'Scarce data: off‐grid households in Australia', Energy Policy, 129 pp. 502-510. ISSN 0301-4215 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2019.02.014 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lovell H


2017Lovell H, Hann V, Watson P, 'Rural laboratories and experiment at the fringes: case study of a smart grid on Bruny Island, Australia', Energy Research & Social Science, 36 pp. 146-155. ISSN 2214-6296 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2017.09.031 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2

Co-authors: Lovell H; Hann V


2015Watson P, Gabriel MB, Rooney M, 'Get bill smart: A community partnership approach to supporting low-income households to achieve home energy savings', Indoor and Built Environment, 24, (7) pp. 867-877. ISSN 1423-0070 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/1420326X15591637 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Gabriel MB; Rooney M


2013Gabriel M, Watson P, 'From Modern Housing to Sustainable Suburbia: How Occupants and their Dwellings are Adapting to Reduce Home Energy Consumption', Housing, Theory and Society, 30, (3) pp. 219-236. ISSN 1403-6096 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14036096.2013.775183 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 10Web of Science - 7

Co-authors: Gabriel M


2012Gabriel M, Watson P, 'Supporting sustainable home improvement in the private rental sector: the view of investors', Urban Policy and Research, 30, (3) pp. 309-325. ISSN 0811-1146 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/08111146.2012.673484 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Gabriel M


2010Gabriel M, Watson P, 'The environmental sustainability of Australia's private rental housing stock', AHURI, Online, (145) EJ ISSN 1445-3428 (2010) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Gabriel M


Chapter in Book

(1 outputs)
2018Altmann E, Watson P, Gabriel M, 'Environmental Restriction in Multi-Owned Property', Multi-Owned Property in the Asia-Pacific Region: Rights, Restrictions and Responsibilities, Palgrave Macmillan, E Altmann and M Gabriel (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 119-136. ISBN 978-1-137-56988-2 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-56988-2_7 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Altmann E; Gabriel M


Conference Publication

(7 outputs)
2010Watson Phillipa, 'Barriers to renovation for housing sustainability in Tasmania', School of Geography & Environmental Studies Conference Abstracts 2010, 28 June 2010, Sandy Bay (2010) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2009Stratford E, Watson Phillipa, 'Critical mix: champions, capacity and complexity in Glenorchy's Energy Rebate Project. Lessons for policy makers', Radical Ideas in a Changing Climate. Remaking Suburbia: Research and policy directions for sustainable home improvements, March, Melbourne, pp. 11-12. (2009) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Stratford E

2008Stratford E, Davison AG, Watson Phillipa, Elliott C, 'Barriers to Renovation for Housing Sustainability in Tasmania', Proceedings of the 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference, September, Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 370-377. ISBN 978-0-646-50372-1 (2008) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Stratford E; Davison AG; Elliott C

2008Watson Phillipa, 'Housing improvement for sustainability in Tasmania: who is involved what are they doing, and what has been the effect?', School of Geography and Environmental Studies Conference Program 2008, October 2008, Hobart, pp. 19-20. (2008) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2007Watson Phillipa, 'A little effort goes a long way: looking at improvements to Tasmanian housing stock', School of Geography and Environmental Studies Conference Program 2007, October, Hobart, pp. 19-19. (2007) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2007Watson Phillipa, 'Understanding the mechanisms of sustainable housing renewal in Tasmania: a qualitative method', 2nd Australasian Housing Researchers' Conference Program 20th - 22nd June 2007, June, Brisbane, pp. 23-23. (2007) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2007Watson Phillipa, Watson S, 'Eco-Renovation Research Through Practice: Environmentally Sustainable Renewal of a 1950's Suburban House', 2nd Australasian Housing Researchers' Conference Program 20th - 22nd June 2007, June, Brisbane, pp. 23-24. (2007) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Contract Report, Consultant's Report

(2 outputs)
2016Lovell H, Watson P, 'TasNetworks Tariff Trial Method Review - Phase One', TasNetworks, Australia (2016) [Consultants Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lovell H

2016Lovell H, Watson Phillipa, 'Tariff Trial Survey Design', TasNetworks, Tasmania (2016) [Consultants Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lovell H


(1 outputs)
2013Watson P, 'Dwelling adaptation for sustainability: improving interventions for energy efficiency, comfort and equity in Tasmania' (2013) [PhD]

[eCite] [Details]

Other Public Output

(2 outputs)
2016Watson P, Lovell H, 'TasNetworks Tariff Trial Recruitment Strategies Review', TasNetworks, Tasmania, pp. 1-21. (2016) [Government or Industry Research]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lovell H

2008Watson Phillipa, Cooper CH, 'Saving energy starts at home', Unitas: News from the University of Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, 323, September (2008) [Media Interview]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Cooper CH

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Exploring the Intersection of Energy Literacy and Financial Literacy (2018)$11,680
Lack of financial literacy and energy literacy have negative impacts on people from vulnerable communities, which limit their ability to make informed decisions about energy use and management of associated financial obligations. Supporting improved financial and energy literacies is particularly relevant and urgent as energy costs are increasing and taking up larger, often unaffordable, portions of household budgets. Currently, the Australian Government is negotiating with energy providers to ensure regular communication with consumers about potential energy savings. Although these negotiations may benefit consumers, it is unlikely that changes in pricing alone will foster more discerning energy usage in consumers who already lack energy literacy. Poor financial and energy literacies will continue to create significant barriers to consumers being able to understand and make use of communication from energy providers. The research will seek to answer:1. What is the intersection of energy and financial literacies in the community?2. In what ways do people draw upon their personal energy and financial literacies when making decisions about the use of energy?3. What are possible learning interventions that could influence, support, and impact decision-making and energy use behaviours? This project will lay the foundations for an ARC Linkage Grant application in collaboration with Aurora Energy. It will draw on research conducted already as part of the Get Bill Smart project, conducted by Dr Phillipa Watson and colleagues, funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science.
University of Tasmania ($11,680)
Grant - CALE Hothouse Alignment Scheme
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Fitzallen NE; Watson Phillipa; Fraser SP; Dungey MH; Yanotti MB
Tariff Trial, Phase One (2016)$7,787
Review of tariff trial approach, sample size and overall trial method robustness (Phase One). 1. A review of the 600 household sample size, including discussion of its main opportunities/advantages and limitations. 2. A brief review of up to 10 other publically available tariff trials in Australia, including gathering data on sample size, location, and other key methodological characteristics. This is to benchmark the proposed Tasmania tariff trial, providing comparison of the sample size and experimental design against other similar trials completed within the Australian electricity market. 3. Methodological review of the experimental design. 4. Highlighting of any significant problems with the experimental design (show stoppers) in the methodological review. 5. Suggestion of modifications that could be made to the experimental design to ensure robustness, and of any further activities or approaches that will encourage robustness. This consultancy involves advising on the research approach being only. We are not involved in data collection or analysis.
Tasmanian Networks Pty Ltd ($7,787)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Lovell HC; Watson Phillipa
Tariff Trial (2016 - 2017)$15,520
UTAS will be assisting TasNetworks to develop a survey tool for the Tariff Trail. UTAS will do this by a) running a workshop to develop survey topics, and b) drafting survey questions for review by TasNetworks. The survey is being developed in May and June 2016 for use at the start of Phase One of the Tariff Trial. This is Phase 2 of UTAS assistance.The survey being developed will be sent to householders along with the terms and conditions for the tariff trial. It is a before survey that is to be filled out prior to advanced meter installations in participant homes. This before survey will be coupled in data analysis with an after survey that will be developed at a later date
Tasmanian Networks Pty Ltd ($15,520)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Lovell HC; Watson Phillipa
2016 - 2017
Get Bill Smart (2013 - 2016)$348,807
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency ($348,807)
Grant-Low Energy Efficiency Program
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Gabriel MB; Watson Phillipa
2013 - 2016

Research Supervision




PhDARENA CONSORT Smart Grid Pilot: Exploring the governance and implementation of energy innovation and community acceptance2016
PhDHealthy Built Fabric Systems for Zero Energy Residential Buildings2019