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Energy sufficiency through social innovation in housing

Lorek, Sylvia, Spangenberg, Joachim H.
Energy policy 2019 v.126 pp. 287-294
buildings, energy conservation, energy efficiency, income, issues and policy, recreation
Experience shows that energy savings through energy efficiency measures are partly compensated by income growth, and partly by rebound effects. Therefore to be effective, efficiency measures have to be embedded in a concept of sufficiency which strives for limits and absolute reduction of energy consumption. While the sufficiency concept is not new, it only recently gained attention in the field of housing. This paper provides a basis for broader and more informed debates in policy and research on the potential of sufficiency considerations to contribute to the overall reduction of energy consumption in the residential sector. It recommends shifting the attention from energy consumption of buildings towards a concept of sustainable homes in which e.g. the size of the living area plays a crucial role. A further important aspect is the possibility to fulfil other basic needs like the provision with food, recreation and social contacts in the nearby environment. The paper describes first examples of housing projects guided by sufficiency criteria, depicts the potential roles of different actor groups and points towards some general policy recommendations.