Low carbon solutions in housing interesting but lack of information slows down adopting them

By removing barriers to low carbon solutions in housing, a reduction of about 20 per cent could be achieved in annual greenhouse gas emissions in areas of detached family housing. These are the findings of a recent study performed at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT).

According to the survey carried out in the study, a large proportion of people are interested in low carbon solutions in housing. About 80 per cent of people want to save energy due to environmental reasons and strive to act in environmentally friendly ways whenever it is possible. According to the study, a reduction of about 20 per cent in the annual greenhouse gas emissions could be reached by removing barriers to low-carbon solutions in areas of detached family housing.

The reduction, calculated by using a life cycle model developed at LUT, is based on the implementation of those energy solutions that the residents are interested to realise or ones they have considered. These solutions include, for example, heat pumps and solar panels.

The biggest barriers to the development of low-carbon solutions in housing are a lack of information about new technologies, possible annual savings that could be achieved and costs incurred.

Although the majority of the respondents were interested to save energy for environmental reasons and, particularly, to save money, almost one half of them believed that the potential savings would not be financially significant, and more than one half were not prepared to compromise their standard of living to save energy.

"The incentives for choosing low-carbon energy solutions are currently related to taxation and other measures available to the central government. But would there be potential for new types of business models and innovations directed to consumers to encourage them to choose low-carbon energy solutions?" ask researchers Suvi Konsti-Laakso and Anna Claudelin.

Buildings account for about 30 per cent of Finland's final energy consumption, and residential buildings account for about half of this. When about 70 per cent of Finns live in one- or two-storey buildings, residents of detached and semi-detached houses play an important role as regards greenhouse gas emissions caused by housing.

The results of the study regarding the barriers to low-carbon solutions in housing and the attitudes are based on a survey carried out in two residential areas in Lahti. A total of 154 residents of detached and semi-detached houses responded to the survey. The study was conducted as a part of the CleanAcceptance project developing low-carbon solutions in housing and was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme.

Further information:

Anna Claudelin, Research Assistant, +358 50 5207186, anna.claudelin@lut.fi

Suvi Konsti-Laakso, Project Researcher, +358 40 0784495, suvi.konsti-laakso@lut.fi