Chapter 14: Climate change, human security and the built environment
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In the UK, the consumption of energy within domestic housing accounts for roughly one third of the country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions (DECC, 2011). Homes have been framed by a range of stakeholders, from energy companies to governments and campaigning groups, as an important site for reducing energy use and, more particularly, meeting national climate change goals. Improving the efficiency of existing homes (and commercial buildings) is critical to such efforts. The UK housing stock is renewed at a rate of only about 1 percent a year and, as such, most of the homes we will occupy – up to at least 2050 – already exist (Beddington, 2008: 4299). Here, we also focus on energy used to provide heating and sustain comfort – recognizing that space heating and cooling account for the lion’s share of domestic energy use in most western societies (Shove, 2003: 396), Comfort, and an adequate standard of warmth, is also a critical aspect of human security. A recent report on fuel poverty (Hills, 2012) claims a ‘profoundly disappointing’ 3 million households will be fuel-poor by 2016, despite the introduction of government measures intended to tackle the problem.

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