What is wrong with a big house?
Authors: Fuller, Robert; Crawford, Robert H; Leonard, D
In Australia in the 1950s, the average house size was approximately 100 m2. By 2008, the average size of a new house had risen to approximately 238 m2 i.e. an increase of nearly 140%. Over the same period, occupancy levels have fallen by nearly one third from 3.7 to 2.5 persons per household. The aim of this paper is to contrast the total and per capita resource demand (direct and embodied energy, water and materials) for two houses typical of their respective era and draw some conclusions from the results. Using the software Autodesk Revit Architecture and drawings for typical 1950 and 2009 houses, the material quantities for these dwellings have been determined. Using known coefficients, the embodied energy and water in the materials have been calculated. Operating energy requirements have been calculated using NatHERS estimates. Water requirements have been calculated using historical and current water data. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the resource use have also been calculated using established coefficients. Results are compared on a per capita basis. The research found that although the energy to operate the modern house and annual water use had fallen, the embodied energy and associated greenhouse gas emissions from material use had risen significantly. This was driven by the size of the house and the change in construction practices.