The initial development of industrial ecology involved the concept of basically studying the interrelationship between the industrial and ecological systems, however gradually with time this has come a long way as now we realize the importance of maintaining the ecological systems and considering the other environmental like the green house effect and other factors have made us realize that we need to strictly look into the flow of energy and materials to improve the industrial metabolism and waste management.[ CITATION Coo05 \p 52 \l 1033 ]
In this paper, we will look at the life-cycle of energy consumption and the specialization will be housing. It is important to review the structure of our eco-system and study the detailed energy consumption cycle, however we will see this from a detailed perspective to derive some efficient and technical ways of control and sustainability.
If we take the example of United States we will realize that almost 11% of the country’s energy resources are used for household consumption, moreover the country’s 43% construction costs are based on the construction if residential houses. There are many other factors such as fuel consumption, lubricants, and other raw materials etc, which come into play when a detailed analysis of industrial ecology is done. [ CITATION Keo01 \l 1033 ]The life cycle of housing involves various different aspects of energy consumption which may be required during material production, operation and maintenance, construction and demolition and these can be studied and improved to cause minimum energy consumption to produce a stable ecology.[ CITATION Keo01 \p 136 \l 1033 ]
On the other hand if we move on to the other geographical area and take into consideration the use of energy resources we will find that “Researchers often assert that if the entire global population consumed natural resources at European levels, three planets would be required to support the massive flow of energy and materials.”[ CITATION Tuk10 \p 14 \l 1033 ] There can be a more sustainable, pattern assessment, which can be done, to understand the chain of events from the raw consumption to resource availability. The final consumption analysis has always helped the researchers to understand the sustained need and also allow the differentiation between necessities and selective needs. [ CITATION Jas08 \p 76 \l 1033 ]
There are few major factors that control the final consumption and the method of determination has been basically the study of consumer behavior in this area and it has been an important study that helps to understand the fluctuation of energy consumption in the households worldwide. Income actually is the top most decider of energy consumption in a household and it is very clear that from an international assessment perspective the relation between per capita income and energy consumption is “directly proportional”, which means that higher is the per capita income and higher is the energy consumed.[ CITATION Jac04 \p 39 \l 1033 ]
Household size, this is actually a problem and a solution in itself, it is easy to understand that the concept of a larger household means more number of people, living together in a family and sharing the same energy resources, which leads to a lower consumption of energy in the household. Actually, this can be explained by another statement that with the growth in population and decreasing household sizes, there is an increase in emissions and energy consumption both.
There are some other important factors like the location of housing; a high density area would make all the facilities available nearby, however in sub-urban and rural areas the same facilities might require transportation, also automobile ownership plays an important role as those with no personally owned automobile, take public transport and not only save on costs but leave smaller carbon footprints. Food Habits, Trading and Geographic location of the housing also play an important role when it comes to determination of final consumption.[ CITATION Jas08 \p 41 \l 1033 ]
Sustainable Consumption: A research based approach . . .
Though there are lot of research objectives associated with industrial ecology, the primary objective is to strike a balance between the consumption, emission and ecology. [ CITATION Jac04 \l 1033 ]The ongoing researches and studies ensure that they regularly experiment and deduce techniques to achieve the above and it is important to look at some of the most efficient ways to achieve sustainable home services.[ CITATION OEC02 \p 128 \l 1033 ]
This started to take a shape of an issue when a lot of electrical appliances were introduced to the market, where there was a lot of electrical energy consumption even when the appliance was in a standby mode, the rapid increase in devices like, computers, televisions, DVD players, refrigerators etc. have resulted in a lot of energy consumption.[ CITATION Han09 \p 152 \l 1033 ] Hence it became important to take steps in controlling this, although there are many efforts and successful inventions to reduce the standby energy consumption of appliances, due to social and governmental pressures, however still it is important to strictly tackle this issue, for example Australia has restricted the use of appliances, that have more than 1 watt standby in some regions. [ CITATION Han09 \p 152 \l 1033 ]
Household Energy Metabolism
This basically talks about the flow of energy that takes place in a house hold and the end-to-end demand and supply of resources which is involved during the initial to final consumption as shown below.[ CITATION Gir10 \p 32 \l 1033 ]
Production of Goods and services Energy Supply Waste management
A detailed energy consumption model is developed and analyzed to find out the technique which will help to determine the cycle of consumption and maintenance of a low consumption pattern. We learn from the model that the efficiency of electricity generation, household income and average indirect energy intensities are the primary reasons of energy consumption across all geographies.[ CITATION Tuk10 \p 15 \l 1033 ] There are co-relations that can help to control the consumption and emissions and these are basically the interlink ages between the direct energy requirements and household based requirements (which are different and depend on various factors).
Consumer Behavior: An indirect approach to industrial ecology . . .
Research objectives in this area are mostly related to the study of consumer behavior in relation to the natural purchasing tendency and the psychology behind the “buying”, however the ultimate goal is to understand and regulate the drive of procurement from the products that cause more emissions and house hold wastes and change the consumer behavior to ensure that the efforts end up in making the market aware about “unimportant consumption” and reduce the waste products. [ CITATION Tuk10 \p 19 \l 1033 ]
All the efforts that are being made to preserve the energy will only show results if there are direct and situation based efforts, placed in order to achieve those goals. Talking particularly about housing, we know that the energy consumption, emissions and waste product are highly important aspects of industrial ecology and when almost 40% construction happens for residential purposes, it becomes all the more important for the energy cycle in households to be improved so as to promote lower consumption and selective procurement.
Looking at the above researches we can deduce that there are multiple factors responsible for the management of industrial ecology, and it is very important to keep those factors in mind and move towards sustainable consumption, although there are factors like consumer procuring behavior which may not show an immediate change, but will improve gradually with regulated efforts.
Cooper, Tim. “Slower Consumption Reflections on Product Life Spans and the “Throwaway Society”.” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2005): 51-68.
Girod, Bastien and de Peter Haan. “More or Better? A Model for Changes in Household Greenhouse Gas Emissions due to Higher Income.” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2010): 31-40.
Hanssen, Gram Krsten. “Standby Consumption in Households Analyzed With a Practice Theory Approach.” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2009): 150-166.
Jackson, Tim. “Live Better by Consuming Less? Is There a “Double Dividend” in Sustainable Consumption?” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2005): 19-38.
—. Motivating Sustainable Consumption a review of evidence on consumer behaviour and behavioural change. Guildford: University of Surry, 2004.
Jasch, Christine, Gabriele Hrauda and Johannes Puhrer. SUSTAINABLE HOMESERVICES. Vienna: Institute for Environmental Management and Economics, 2008.
Keoleain, Gregory A., Steven Blanchard and Peter Reppe. “Life-Cycle Energy, Costs, and Strategies for Improving a Single-Family House .” Journal of Industrial Ecology Vol 4 No. 2 (2001): 135-155.
OECD. “Towards Sustainable Household Consumption.” 2002.
Tukker, Arnold, et al. “The Impacts of Household Consumption and Options for Change.” Journal of Industrial Ecology Vol 14 No.1 (2010): 13-31.