Sustaining Technical Efficiency and the Socialised Home: Examining the Social Dimension within Sustainable Architecture and the Home

By Phillipa Marsh.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Sustainable concerns appear increasingly prevalent to almost all scopes of industry, with society also becoming progressively aware and active towards the importance of sustainability. Housing is often identified as a core contributor to the UK energy concerns, with 27% of the country’s C02 emissions produced through the burning fossil fuels with the home (Edwards & Hyett: 2002; DECC:2009). The built environment commonly presents sustainability from a technological construct, whereby research organisations keenly promotes technologies that address sustainable proficiency (Smith: 2003) and governmental guidance has focused designers and engineers to implement sustainable technologies, as a means of technical measurement.
Whilst techno-rational constructs within sustainable architecture have thus provided a ‘how it works’ or ‘can do’ approach, this limits the social consideration (Roy & Herring:2007). However sociological perspectives see social factors as central to sustainability and in losing sight of this, many technical oriented built environments have been significantly less efficient than predicted (Chappells & Shove:2000).
Drawing from various multi-disciplinary perspectives, this paper examines the literature which has begun to address this issue. Discussions will further highlight how this social context can impact on our perception of efficiency, through two specific case-studies. These findings will review users’ actual experiences of living in existing sustainable housing; in terms of acceptance and adoption of sustainable practice.
By providing a specific focus on domestic housing, this paper looks to highlight the importance of the social beyond being technically efficient, and calls for a more widespread consideration of social elements; user interactions, comfort, acceptance and adoption of technology. Whilst the focus may appear specific, there is strong correlation to the wider understanding of technologies that are considered in and for society, opening up the sustainability debate to a more rounded perspective.

Keywords: Sustainability, Technologies, Social Impacts, Adoption

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.287-298. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.228MB).

Phillipa Marsh

Researcher, Department of the Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Phillipa Marsh is currently researching for a PhD in Architecture and Social Science at University of Nottingham, considering the influence of technology within sustainable housing. She also teaches widely as Senior Lecturer for Interior Architecture as well as in Marketing; teaching design concepts for the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University. She completed a Masters degree in Research Methods in 2004 and has previous industry experience is as an interior designer and a product designer.

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