Executive editor of Environmental Building News (EBN) and president of BuildingGreen, Inc., publisher of EBN and the GreenSpec Directory of green building products, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA.
Small is Beautiful U.S. House Size, Resource Use, and the Environment
Article first published online: 8 FEB 2008
Journal of Industrial Ecology
Volume 9, Issue 1-2, pages 277–287, January 2005
How to Cite
Wilson, A. and Boehland, J. (2005), Small is Beautiful U.S. House Size, Resource Use, and the Environment. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 9: 277–287. doi: 10.1162/1088198054084680
- Issue published online: 8 FEB 2008
- Article first published online: 8 FEB 2008
- real estate;
As house size increases, resource use in buildings goes up, more land is occupied, increased impermeable surface results in more storm-water runoff, construction costs rise, and energy consumption increases. In new, single-family houses constructed in the United States, living area per family member has increased by a factor of 3 since the 1950s. In comparing the energy performance of compact (small) and large single-family houses, we find that a small house built to only moderate energy-performance standards uses substantially less energy for heating and cooling than a large house built to very high energy-performance standards. This article examines some of the trends in single-family house building in the United States and provides recommendations for downsizing houses to improve quality and resource efficiency.