Eco-Self-Build Housing Communities: Are They Feasible and Can They Lead to Sustainable and Low Carbon Lifestyles?
This paper concerns how sustainable and low carbon living can be enabled in new housing developments in the UK. It is here recognized that consumption of energy and resources is not just what goes into the building, but also long-term through occupancy and activities. Current approaches, which require housing developers to reduce the carbon emissions of the homes they build through a mixture of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, do not sufficiently contribute to the carbon emission reductions which are necessary for meeting UK Government targets and to avoid dangerous climate change. Purchasing a home ties people in to not just direct consumption of energy (heating, hot water, electricity), but also effects other areas of consumption such as the embedded energy in the building and activities associated with the location and the type of development. Conventional business models for new housing development, operating under current government regulations, policies and targets have failed to develop housing which encourages the adoption of sustainable lifestyles taking whole life consumption into account. An alternative business model of eco-self-build communities is proposed as a way to foster desired behavior change. The feasibility of eco-self-build communities and their scope for supporting low carbon sustainable lifestyles is assessed through stakeholder interviews, and through quantitative assessment of costs, carbon emission reduction potential, and other sustainability impacts of technical and lifestyle options and their combinations. The research shows that eco-self-build communities are both feasible and have the ability to deliver low carbon lifestyles. In comparison to conventional approaches to building new housing, they have further advantages in terms of delivering wider social, environmental as well as economic sustainability objectives. If implemented correctly they could succeed in making sustainable lifestyles attractive, and foster the development of pro- environmental social norms.
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