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Performing accountability: Making environmental credentials visible in housing design


  • Shaw, Isabel
  • Ozaki, Ritsuko


Making housing developments ‘environmentally sustainable’ requires housing developers to be accountable for their ‘green’ credentials. Accountability is promoted by both the UK government's environmental policy for housing design – the Code for Sustainable Homes – and local councils in their planning criteria. These accountability practices are key to how relationships between housing professionals and local planning authorities influence practices and outcomes of environmental sustainability. In this article, we examine how accountability is performed in housing design and development. We argue that accountability practices involve the management of making environmental sustainability visible through demonstrating the utilization of sustainable technologies. We contend that these ‘visibility’ practices are carried out to the detriment of an appreciation of how energy is both provided and consumed. We contend that using the installation phase of sustainable technologies as a point of adequate assessment of the environmental effectiveness of a building is short-sighted. Policy needs to look beyond this, and consult with professionals who develop and sell houses to understand better their working priorities and contexts that shape the provision of renewable energy in the planning phase and post-build.

Suggested Citation

  • Shaw, Isabel & Ozaki, Ritsuko, 2015. "Performing accountability: Making environmental credentials visible in housing design," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 136-139.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:87:y:2015:i:c:p:136-139
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2015.09.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McManus, A. & Gaterell, M.R. & Coates, L.E., 2010. "The potential of the Code for Sustainable Homes to deliver genuine 'sustainable energy' in the UK social housing sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 2013-2019, April.
    2. Shaw, Isabel & Ozaki, Ritsuko, 2013. "Energy provision and housing development: Re-thinking professional and technological relations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 427-430.
    3. Steve Hinchliffe & Matthew B Kearnes & Monica Degen & Sarah Whatmore, 2007. "Ecologies and economies of action—sustainability, calculations, and other things," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 39(2), pages 260-282, February.
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