Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.
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Chapter 11: Housing in a sustainable consumption perspective

Kirsten Gram-Hanssen


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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