The metabolism of living space : allometric scaling of energy use in UK domestic buildings

Brown, Calum and Jarvis, Andrew (2015) The metabolism of living space : allometric scaling of energy use in UK domestic buildings. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Understanding and reducing domestic energy usage is seen as key to achieving national greenhouse gas emission targets, as well ensuring sustainable consumption at a domestic level. Domestic buildings represent a well-defined unit of space with numerous, easily measurable characteristics. They can also be perceived as being the terminal, end-use elements of a global resource distribution network, as defined by Jarvis et al., (2015). Such networks have drawn comparisons to biological organisms in how they acquire, transform, use and dispose of resources from their surrounding environment through a metabolic system of processing. This thesis aims to more deeply understand interrelations between, people, energy and space at a domestic level, assessing the influence of building geometry and social practices on scaling relationships relating to domestic energy consumption. Scaling relationships relating to the physical building properties have been studied extensively, however none directly assess how total energy usage scales across the domestic building stock. Data is abstracted form the 2012 English Housing Survey (EHS) housing stock dataset, which contains physical and demographic data relating to ~14k randomly sampled households across England. Scaling relationships are established between household size and total energy usage, both across the entire housing stock and by selected building characteristics, revealing scaling effects pertaining to specific domestic properties. Across the entire housing stock, a scaling exponent of 0.8032 ± 0.013 is observed for the relationship between household total floor area and total energy consumption, indicating a decrease in energy use per unit space with increased household size. This result is set within a context of building geometric properties and theories of societal metabolism, drawing extensively on current literature and this researches own findings. Understanding the origins of such scaling could potentially hold important implications for how individuals perceive their energy consumption, both in relation to physical domestic buildings and wider society.

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12 Sep 2016 13:44
Last Modified:
20 Jun 2024 23:32