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Relative benefits of technology and occupant behaviour in moving towards a more energy efficient, sustainable housing paradigm


  • Pilkington, Brian
  • Roach, Richard
  • Perkins, James


Much focus is given to the energy efficiency of dwellings, in policy and regulation, in pursuance of reduced CO2 emissions for sustainability. This article examines a terrace of 6 similar, passive solar dwellings with sunspaces and the effects that occupants' behaviours have on their energy efficiency. It was found that average annual space heating demand was less than expected, indicating potential benefits from measuring passive solar gains as a form of renewable energy. Space heating demand per person varied by a factor of up to 14 between dwellings dependent on occupant behaviour. Further evidence showed a factor of 45 possible. Significant behaviours in this dwelling type were identified. A second study used 31 personal ecological footprint (PEF) accounts to assess the significance of dwelling energy efficiency in terms of environmental sustainability. A comparison was made between residents of contemporary eco-homes and practising permaculturists occupying a range of traditional house types. It was found that the PEF of the average eco-home dweller was 1.6 times higher than that of the permaculturists. It is argued that improved education for sustainability would be a more efficient way to reduce domestic energy demand than currently recognised.

Suggested Citation

  • Pilkington, Brian & Roach, Richard & Perkins, James, 2011. "Relative benefits of technology and occupant behaviour in moving towards a more energy efficient, sustainable housing paradigm," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 4962-4970, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:9:p:4962-4970

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cameron Hepburn & Nicholas Stern, 2008. "A new global deal on climate change," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 259-279, Summer.
    2. Arik Levinson, 2010. "Offshoring Pollution: Is the United States Increasingly Importing Polluting Goods?," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 63-83, Winter.
    3. Peters, Glen P., 2008. "From production-based to consumption-based national emission inventories," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 13-23, March.
    4. Thomas Wiedmann & John Barrett, 2010. "A Review of the Ecological Footprint Indicator—Perceptions and Methods," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(6), pages 1-49, June.
    5. Monahan, J. & Powell, J.C., 2011. "A comparison of the energy and carbon implications of new systems of energy provision in new build housing in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 290-298, January.
    6. Munksgaard, Jesper & Pedersen, Klaus Alsted, 2001. "CO2 accounts for open economies: producer or consumer responsibility?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 327-334, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bessa, Vanessa M.T. & Prado, Racine T.A., 2015. "Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by solar water heating systems and passive technologies in social housing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 138-150.
    2. Hargreaves, Anthony & Cheng, Vicky & Deshmukh, Sandip & Leach, Matthew & Steemers, Koen, 2017. "Forecasting how residential urban form affects the regional carbon savings and costs of retrofitting and decentralized energy supply," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 186(P3), pages 549-561.
    3. Yanine, Franco F. & Sauma, Enzo E., 2013. "Review of grid-tie micro-generation systems without energy storage: Towards a new approach to sustainable hybrid energy systems linked to energy efficiency," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 60-95.
    4. Rae, Callum & Bradley, Fiona, 2012. "Energy autonomy in sustainable communities—A review of key issues," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 6497-6506.
    5. Nejat, Payam & Jomehzadeh, Fatemeh & Taheri, Mohammad Mahdi & Gohari, Mohammad & Abd. Majid, Muhd Zaimi, 2015. "A global review of energy consumption, CO2 emissions and policy in the residential sector (with an overview of the top ten CO2 emitting countries)," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 843-862.
    6. Zhang, Xiaoling, 2015. "Green real estate development in China: State of art and prospect agenda—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-13.


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