Conceptualizing the sustainable home - Explorations of alternative home practices
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2015
How we design, build and manage our living environments is instrumental in the environmental, socio-cultural as well as politico-economical implications of the built environment. A main indicator of resource use in particular is moreover found in individual residents’ ways of life, as well as aspects of material, spatial and thermal standards that influence the energy and resource intensity of contemporary home life. Of interest to the presented research is how residents’ perceptions of home, housing development and living standards relate to environmental attitudes and interpretations of sustainability. It explores perceptions of and the potential for less resource intensive home-related practices, primarily linked to voluntary simplicity, living smaller, as well as sharing spaces and resources in or in relation to the dwelling.
A mixed methods approach is used to study residents’ perspectives, with empirical material from two different studies in two varying contexts: an urban tenant-owned housing association in Gothenburg; and semi-rural households in the Municipality of Alingsås. In the first study, questionnaires were distributed to all households within a selected housing association, with a response rate of 51% (n=156). By recruitment through the questionnaires, follow-up interviews were conducted with 22 of the households. A second study revolves around narratives from people that have intentionally chosen to live in various alternative ways, where seven deep interviews, following a more ethnographic approach, offer valuable empirical insights.
The studies provide a basis for exploring alternative home-related practices. The efficacy of current ‘green’ housing development is discussed, as well as the willingness among residents to reduce resource use in relation to more or less normative representations of home. The need for understanding residents’ dispositions and the implications this might have for targeting the resource intensity of homes in more or less radical ways is emphasized, in order to develop future approaches and policy.