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Sustainable Living and Co-Housing: Evidence from a Case Study of Eco-Villages

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In this article we examine aspects of the different arguments for the environmental advantages of co-housing compared with individual households. The analysis is structured around four main questions, which are argued to be decisive for the question of co-housing and sustainability. The first is whether co-housing offers better opportunities for choosing and using more sustainable technologies, which also relates to the question of whether co-housing offers better opportunities for building smaller and denser and thus more energy efficient buildings. The second and third questions are socially oriented; one relates to the claim that co-housing can support pro-environmental behaviour among residents as they can support each other's norms and practices. The fourth and last claim relates to a discussion of co-housing as a more sustainable opportunity especially for people living alone, as the growing number of small households is an emerging sustainability problem. The empirical analyses are based on the results from a Danish study of eco-villages including a survey, interviews with representatives of the eco-village movement and a detailed case study of a group of people in the process of establishing a new cluster in an existing eco-village. The aim of the article is to contribute to the general discussions about co-housing and sustainability. The study adds nuances to this discussion and shows that the answer is not as straightforward as presented in much of the literature.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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