Single-family homes need to be more sustainable

In order to reach the targets of the 2,000 Watt Society, single-family homes in peri-urban residential neighborhoods must become more sustainable. According to a recent study, these currently consume 6.5 times more power than the 2,000 Watt Society scenario permits.

Judith Drouilles, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), recently conducted a study on the 2,000 Watt Society. Although the study focused on the French-speaking part of Switzerland, her results apply to Switzerland as a whole.

According to Drouilles “peri-urban residential neighborhoods consisting of single-family homes, although they are not a priority in terms of spatial planning, also have a lot of scope for improvement in terms of sustainability”. Her calculations show that these homes consume 6.5 times more power than the 2,000 Watt Society permits.

Given that buying a single-family home in Switzerland is often the culmination of a life-long project or dream, it’s important to find solutions that would be acceptable to homeowners, explained Drouilles. For example, awareness-raising initiatives could make neighbourhoods more sustainable through carpooling and carsharing, community gardens or shared services.

Drouilles, who holds a PhD in architecture, also points out that half of all single-family homes in Switzerland are currently occupied by retired couples, many of whom have neither the money nor the inclination to refurbish their homes with more sustainable energy systems. They also tend to depend on their cars to get around. To overcome these problems, Drouilles is encouraging local authorities to adopt their own initiatives to make single-family homes more sustainable.

According to government statistics from 2015, 10% of Switzerland’s population lives in a peri-urban residential neighborhood in which more than 80% of residential buildings are single-family homes. Each inhabitant travels more than 40 km per day by car on average.

Image credit: moerschy via Pixabay

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