Chapter 11: Housing in a sustainable consumption perspective
In a global perspective, sustainability includes a social, an economic and an environmental perspective (United Nations 1987). In this chapter I focus on the environmental perspective from a North-Western point of view, and in this context sustainable consumption is mainly about reducing the use of non-renewable resources as well as avoiding environmental pollution and waste. Resource consumption, emissions and waste related to housing can be assessed either from ‘above’ or from ‘below’. When counting from below, from the point of the individual consumer, three main consumption areas are usually deemed most (and about equally) important: travelling, food and housing (Tukker et al. 2010). Based on different ways of counting resource use, it can be shown that housing, roughly speaking, takes up one-quarter of an average Western consumer’s ecological footprint, and transportation and food consumption about the same (for Denmark, see Dall and Toft 2002). Another approach is to look at consumption from above, for example from a national perspective, and see how resource consumption and emissions are distributed between sectors. For example the housing sector in Denmark takes up roughly one-third of all energy consumed (Danish Energy Authority 2010). Thus irrespective of whether one approaches the topic from above or from below, housing is important when dealing with sustainable consumption.
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