Understanding the Impacts of Housing on the Environment

Energy Consumption:

Energy consumption in houses accounts for significant percent of the total energy consumption each year. On average UK homes consume more than 10 times the energy consumed by state-of-theart houses being built elsewhere in Europe.

Changes in the building regulations requiring improved standards of energy efficiency in new houses do not match the standards being achieved. No regulation addresses energy-efficiency standards in existing houses.

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Water Consumption:

Two-thirds of water is used to flush WCs, wash clothes or dishes and for bathing. Except when there are water shortages there is no expectation that households will conserve or re-cycle water. There is no consumer expectation or commitment from house builders to design homes in ways that conserve water.

Neighbourhoods:

All neighbourhoods have an ‘ecological footprint’. Neighbourhoods which are most compact and self-contained, with more local shopping, employment and community facilities, have a smaller ‘footprint’. One implication of this is a potential reduction in dependence on the private car.

Just under a third of all car mileage travelled each year is between home and work. Road transport is responsible for 91 percent of carbon monoxide and 51 per cent of nitrogen dioxide. Reducing the need to use the car will make a significant contribution to more sustainable neighbourhoods.

Consumer Information:

Generally consumers do not know how their housing choices effect the environment. There is no system of labelling or kite marking homes on ecological grounds. Consumers do not have the information on which to make choices between livings in a home which is more or less sustainable; neither do the people consumers rely on for information—builders, plumbers, heating engineers.

This lack of information leads to the consumer apparently continuing to prefer the purchase and use of relatively inefficient goods, unsustainable building practices and the purchase of homes with higher running and maintenance costs in the long run.

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