Zero-Energy Me – The Struggle for Individual Energy Neutrality

Dobbelsteen, A.v.d., Martin, Craig orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0239-1298 and Keeffe, G. (2017) Zero-Energy Me – The Struggle for Individual Energy Neutrality. In: PLEA2017 - Passive Low Energy Architecture - Design to Thrive, 2-5 July 2017, Edinburgh.

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The strife for zero-energy buildings and carbon-neutral developments is - however noble and benevolent
- mostly aimed at an abstract target, such as a design in architecture school, a house still to be built, an urban plan under development. It is mostly dealing with there, then and them, rather than here, now and us. A sustainable, climate-, carbon- or energy neutral society implies that each individual needs to be sustainable, climate- or carbon-neutral. Acknowledging this, the main author started to keep track of his performance in energy use, travel and food habits, and during lectures he presented about this openly to his students.
Over a period of 7 years, the detailed tracking of energy, travel and food, and, more so, consecutive actions taken, have led to a lower energy consumption and hence carbon footprint. In the author's private life, we should say, because in the meantime his professional international career took off and so had many flights across the globe. They once more demonstrated that we, even when living low-carbon consciously, often are penny-wise, pound foolish. This individual research clarified the greatest challenges and most effective strategies of living in a modern, dense city, with abundant access to unsustainable food and with easy opportunities to travel unsustainably for little money. As it held a mirror to the author, it will do too to a greater audience.

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