Evaluating the impact of sustainable house design and environmental attitudes on resource usage: an Australian study
Authors: O’Callaghan, Ben ; Hyde, Richard
Significant effort, capital and time are being invested by western countries to address climate change impacts by constructing more sustainable buildings. Building a Sustainably Designed (SD) dwelling may assist in reducing water and energy consumption through passive measures, but consumption efficiencies may also be enhanced or reduced by the behaviour of the occupants within the dwelling and to date this has not been quantified. This paper describes the method and interim results of research aimed at improving our understanding of whether sustainably designed homes truly achieve lower levels of impact on the environment and also to what extent occupant attitudes play a role in any improvement. Key utility consumption data have been measured using real time monitoring systems embedded with the SD homes at The Ecovillage at Currumbin (‘Ecovillage’), Australia. Environmental attitude questionnaires have been used to better understand residents’ behaviours. An equivalent sample of contemporary homes from the same area provides high quality comparative data. Results reveal the sustainably designed homes use only 24% (5.7kWh per day) of the net energy that the contemporary homes use on average. Higher levels of attitudes favourable to environmental conservation also correlate closely with (lower) energy use but were not found to be significant when analysed with other stronger variables.