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While considerable improvements to the energy efficiency of housing have been achieved over recent decades, the residential sector still represents a significant and increasing proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is exacerbated by an increasing global population and living standards, demand for larger houses, and smaller household size. Tiny houses have emerged as a potential solution to this issue. While research exists on the environmental benefits of smaller housing, there is little on that of tiny houses. This study quantifies the life cycle GHG emissions of a tiny house, and their potential to reduce residential GHG emissions. A hybrid analysis and a dynamic energy modelling tool were used to quantify embodied and operational GHG emissions, respectively, for a tiny house located in Australia. The study shows that a tiny house may result in a 70% reduction in per capita GHG emissions over its life compared to a traditional Australian house. This indicates the potential of tiny houses to be a useful option for reducing GHG emissions in the building sector.
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IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Tiny house, tiny footprint? The potential for tiny houses to reduce
residential greenhouse gas emissions
To cite this article: R H Crawford and A Stephan 2020 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 588 022073
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BEYOND 2020 – World Sustainable Built Environment conference
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Tiny house, tiny footprint? The potential for tiny houses to
reduce residential greenhouse gas emissions
R H Crawford1 and A Stephan1
1 The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Abstract. While considerable improvements to the energy efficiency of housing have been
achieved over recent decades, the residential sector still represents a significant and increasing
proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is exacerbated by an increasing global
population and living standards, demand for larger houses, and smaller household size. Tiny
houses have emerged as a potential solution to this issue. While research exists on the
environmental benefits of smaller housing, there is little on that of tiny houses. This study
quantifies the life cycle GHG emissions of a tiny house, and their potential to reduce
residential GHG emissions. A hybrid analysis and a dynamic energy modelling tool were used
to quantify embodied and operational GHG emissions, respectively, for a tiny house located in
Australia. The study shows that a tiny house may result in a 70% reduction in per capita GHG
emissions over its life compared to a traditional Australian house. This indicates the potential
of tiny houses to be a useful option for reducing GHG emissions in the building sector.
1. Introduction
Buildings account for over a third of global energy use, and nearly 40 percent of energy-related
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [1]. Residential buildings alone were responsible for more than 70%
of total building energy demand across the globe in 2017, and while there have been considerable
energy efficiency gains over recent decades, an increasing population (expected to increase by a
further 29% to 9.8 billion by 2050) and residential floor area have resulted in an overall increase in
energy demand [1]. Australia, for example, has the second largest houses in the world, behind the US,
with the average new freestanding house measuring 231m2 [2].
Multiple studies have shown there is a direct relationship between house size and operational
energy use [3, 4], while some studies, such as [5], have found house size is also a dominant factor in
determining life cycle energy use. Therefore, with house size being shown to strongly influence
energy use, smaller houses represent an opportunity to reduce global energy use and GHG emissions.
The Tiny House Movement, which began in the US, has been expanding particularly in
industrialised economies. Tiny houses are defined as less than 400 square feet (37m2) and primarily a
full-time dwelling that is either permanent or mobile, on wheels or a skid [6]. Tiny houses are argued
to result in lower environmental effects compared to a standard house by using less resources for
construction, less energy for heating, cooling and lighting, and encouraging lower consumption [7, 8].
While many studies highlight tiny house affordability [6], broad environmental benefits [8] and the
motivation of inhabitants to reduce their environmental footprint [6, 9, 10], limited research has been
conducted on the specific environmental benefits of a tiny house. Carlin [7] argues tiny houses reduce
energy use by requiring less heating and cooling, along with decreasing resource demands for material
possessions. However, the study lacks quantification of the extent of these benefits. Eberle [11]
completed a tiny house life cycle assessment and found that on a per square metre basis, tiny houses
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IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 588 (2020) 022073
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were comparable or had a higher global warming potential compared to a standard house, with
operational energy accounting for 80% of the tiny house GHG emissions. Beyond this, knowledge of
the potential for a tiny house to reduce energy use and GHG emissions is limited, especially including
a comprehensive understanding of their embodied GHG emissions. This addresses SDG 11 and 12 in
our attempt to create cities and communities that are more environmentally sustainable, considering
resource efficiency and minimising non-essential resource consumption.
1.1. Aim and scope
The aim of this study was to determine the potential for tiny houses to reduce the greenhouse gas
emissions associated with housing. The scope of the analysis includes stages A1-3 (production of
materials), A4-5 (construction process), and B5-6 (use stage) as per EN 15978 [12]. The end of life
stage (C1-4) was excluded.
2. Research method
A case study approach was used to evaluate the potential of tiny houses to reduce GHG emissions
associated with housing. Drawings for a typical tiny house were sourced from a tiny house builder in
Melbourne, Australia. The tiny house is 6m × 2.4m × 3.6m (12.2m2 NCFA) and is built on a steel-
framed trailer, with softwood timber framed walls and roof, corrugated steel roofing, painted
plasterboard internal linings, particleboard and laminated timber flooring, timber weatherboard
cladding, aluminium single glazed windows, cabinetry, kitchen and bathroom fittings.
Figure 1. Tiny house case study floorplan [13]
2.1. Quantifying embodied greenhouse gas emissions
A bill of materials was developed from the tiny house drawings. A Path Exchange hybrid technique
[14] was used to quantify the embodied GHG emissions of the initial construction of the tiny house
(A1-3). The material quantities were multiplied by hybrid embodied GHG emissions coefficients from
the EPiC Database [15]. Emissions associated with the construction process (A4-5) were quantified
with the use of national average construction data for Australia, as per [15]. The recurrent embodied
GHG emissions associated with material replacement (B5) were calculated as per [16].
2.2. Quantifying operational greenhouse gas emissions
Operational energy was calculated for two distinctive locations (temperate Melbourne and humid
subtropical Brisbane). FirstRate5 was used to estimate the heating and cooling-related energy for the
tiny house. The comfort range assumed was 20-26.5C. Constraint factors of 0.45 for heating and 0.15
for cooling were used to adjust for predicted overestimation of energy use through simulation.
Operational energy associated with appliances, cooking and hot water were calculated based on
average per capita usage from [17]. Hot water usage of 70L/capita/day and an average annual
temperature difference between mains water and final hot water of 38.8°C for Melbourne and 34°C for
Brisbane was assumed. Operational GHG emissions were calculated by multiplying the energy
demand for each use and fuel type by relevant GHG emissions factors from [18, Table 2 and 41].
2.3. Potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of housing
To determine the potential of tiny houses to reduce residential GHG emissions, the tiny house life
cycle GHG emissions were compared to those of a more traditional house. A hypothetical house of
BEYOND 2020 – World Sustainable Built Environment conference
IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 588 (2020) 022073
IOP Publishing
were based on [16] and [19]. To correct for household size, the comparison was made on a per capita
basis, assuming two occupants for the tiny house and three occupants for the traditional house.
3. Results
On a per capita basis, the total life cycle GHG emissions of the tiny house were found to be 73 tCO2-e
for Melbourne and 62 tCO2-e for Brisbane (Figure 2). The initial and recurrent embodied GHG
emissions represent 7-8% and 4-5% of these values, respectively. Thus, the operational energy-related
GHG emissions for the tiny house represent at least 87-89% of its life cycle GHG emissions.
The total life cycle GHG emissions of the traditional house were found to be 275 tCO2-e for
Melbourne and 201 tCO2-e for Brisbane, on a per capita basis. The initial and recurrent embodied
GHG emissions represent 26-35% and 15-21% of these values, respectively. Embodied GHG
emissions thus represent at least 41% of the life cycle GHG emissions of the traditional house.
Figure 2. Life cycle GHG emissions of tiny house and traditional house for Melbourne and Brisbane
4. Discussion and conclusions
Due to the small volume of the tiny house, there is very little difference between the heating and
cooling-related GHG emissions of both locations. For this same reason, the contribution of these
emissions to total operational GHG emissions is less than 2%, with appliance-related emissions
contributing over 80% of operational GHG emissions. This contrasts with the traditional house, where
a greater difference in operational GHG emissions between locations is evident, due in most part to the
significant difference in heating needs between the two locations. For the traditional house, heating
and cooling-related emissions account for a much higher proportion of operational GHG emissions.
The operational and embodied GHG emissions for the traditional house were found to be much
higher than for the tiny house. This was to be expected on a whole-of-house basis, due to the much
larger footprint of the traditional house, as demonstrated by [20]. However, this also held true on a per
capita basis. The reason for this is due to the average volume of space per capita, which was seven
times greater in the traditional house, based on the assumed household size. This contributed to at least
a 70% reduction in per capita life cycle GHG emissions for the tiny house. While the traditional house
has the capacity to house many more people, it would require at least 10 occupants for the per capita
life cycle GHG emissions to be lower than those of the tiny house. This is extremely rare in Australia,
as in many developed economies, with a current average household size of 2.6 [21].
While the operational GHG emissions for the traditional house are based on actual survey data, the
equivalent data for the tiny house is based on simulations (heating and cooling) and regional average
data. As tiny houses tend to be at one extreme end of the scale of what would be considered typical
housing in Australia, these values are likely to be limited in their representativeness of the GHG
emissions associated with running a tiny house. This is particularly likely to be the case for the non-
thermal-related GHG emissions, such as appliances. Inevitably, these values are likely to overestimate
the emissions for a tiny house, and as such, actual emissions are most likely to be even lower.
The findings may be affected by any number of variables, including: climate, house size, location,
occupant behavior, material choice and source, energy types and number of occupants. In addition, a
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
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number of variables were assumed constant over the 50-year study period (household size, operational
energy demand, fuel types, emissions factors). Variations in any of these may also alter the results.
In conclusion, on a per capita basis, the tiny house analysed in this study leads to at least a 70%
reduction in life cycle GHG emissions compared to a traditional house. This provides additional
evidence of the potential significant benefits of smaller housing and impetus for industry and owners
to consider it during housing design. While further research on the social and other implications of
tiny houses is needed, this study shows that they may be able to make a significant contribution to
achieving the rapid emissions reductions that are urgently needed in the housing sector.
[1] IEA and UNEP 2018 2018 Global Status Report: towards a zero-emission, efficient and
resilient buildings and construction sector
[2] CommSec 2018 Australian home size hits 20-year low Economic Insights
[3] Clune S, Morrissey J and Moore T 2012 Size matters: House size and thermal efficiency as
policy strategies to reduce net emissions of new developments Energy Policy 48 657–667
[4] Guerra Santin O, Itard L and Visscher H 2009 The effect of occupancy and building
characteristics on energy use for space and water heating in Dutch residential stock Energy
and Buildings 41(11) 1223-1232
[5] Fuller R J and Crawford R H 2011 Impact of past and future residential housing development
patterns on energy demand and related emissions Journal of Housing and the Built
Environment 26(2) 165-83
[6] Shearer H and Burton P 2019 Towards a typology of tiny houses Housing, Theory and Society
36(3) 298-318
[7] Carlin T M 2014 Tiny homes: Improving carbon footprint and the American lifestyle on a
large scale Celebrating Scholarship & Creativity Day 2-20
[8] Kilman C 2016 Small house, big impact: the effect of tiny houses on community and
environment Undergraduate Journal of Humanistic Studies 2 1-12
[9] Boeckermann L M, Kaczynski A T and King S B 2019 Dreaming big and living small:
examining motivations and satisfaction in tiny house living Journal of Housing and the Built
Environment 34(1) 61-71
[10] Ford J and Gomez-Lanier L 2017 Are tiny homes here to stay? A review of literature on the
tiny house movement Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal 45(4) 394-405
[11] Eberle A 2015 Life cycle assessment of a tiny house University of Washington 1-48
[12] European Standards Organisation 2011 EN 15978:2011 Sustainability of construction works -
Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation method Czech Republic
[13] Tiny Homes Australia 2019 Fraser Tiny Home Plan
[14] Crawford R H et al 2018 Hybrid life cycle inventory methods – A review Journal of Cleaner
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[15] Crawford R H, Stephan A and Prideaux F 2019 Environmental Performance in Construction
(EPiC) Database Melbourne The University of Melbourne
[16] Crawford R H et al 2016 Evaluating the life cycle energy benefits of energy efficiency
regulations for buildings Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 63 435-451
[17] DEWHA 2008 Energy Use in the Australian Residential Sector, 1986 to 2020 Department of
the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Canberra
[18] DEE 2018 National greenhouse accounts factors Dept of the Environment & Energy Canberra
[19] Weterings T and Tustin J 2017 Energy Consumption Benchmarks: Electricity and Gas for
Residential Customers Melbourne 138p
[20] Stephan A and Crawford R H 2016 The relationship between house size and life cycle energy
demand: Implications for energy efficiency regulations for buildings Energy 116 1158-1171
[21] ABS 2019 3236.0 - Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2016 to 2041 Australian
Bureau of Statistics Canberra
... Opinions from other researchers who have discussed the shortcomings of the compact house concept, namely the limited space area, the shape, and size of the furniture, must be considered, and utilities must be appropriately considered. Usually, a parking area can only be filled with one large vehicle, such as a car or several motorcycles (Chairul Nayla and Purisari, 2019;Siahaan, 2017;Crawford and Stephan, 2020). Changes in the function of space affect functions, activities, and visuals (Li, 2019). ...
... Several studies on compact houses found information about aesthetics, design concepts, and design results (Siahaan, 2017;Putri and Prianto, 2016;Crawford and Stephan, 2020;Lutz et al., 2018;Khairunnisa and Darmawan, 2020;Medgyasszay et al., 2021;Etman et al., 2018;Pratiwi and Poedjioetami, 2020). Other studies related to IoT have discussed technicalities in operating software on just a few items (Rachman, 2017;Siswipraptini et al., 2021;Lata and Kumar, 2022;Obaid, 2021;Singla and Sharma, 2022;Embitel). ...
... Even though there have been significant improvements in energy efficiency over the past few decades, an increasing population (estimated to rise by another 29% to 9.8 billion by 2050) and residential floor area have led to an overall increase in energy demand (Nuraeny et al., 2020). In addition, the concept of a compact house as is a place of residence was responsible for more than 70% of all building energy demand globally in 2017 (Crawford and Stephan, 2020). The compact houses are useful for small spaces and need to be implemented in the future. ...
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Indonesia is entering Industry 4.0, but is still not using supportive technology, especially in residential areas. A compact house is one of the dwellings built on limited modern land, providing flexible use of space according to the activities carried out by residents. The current version of this type of residence, namely smart homes, is still far from what is expected. There is a need for the modern use of IoT in every room, which can adapt to the activities of residents to make it easier for residents to move. A grounded theory and descriptive approach was used to find the continuity of modern Industry 4.0 and IoT technology in smart homes with the compact house concept to find the novelty of design standards. The findings are in the form of lighting that can be adjusted via IoT to reduce the crime rates in abandoned homes or in homes that are not active because the residents are traveling.
... As in many Western countries, living space per inhabitant is steadily increasing in Germany [1,2]. According to Crawford and Stephan [3], this increase has a significant negative impact on the environment, as residential buildings account for approximately 70% of the world's energy demand for construction, while buildings in general were responsible for about 40% of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017, despite improvements in energy efficiency [4]. In addition, Europe is facing a housing crisis, with Germany experiencing a shortage of affordable housing, especially of small apartments in the major cities, and a resulting sharp increase in housing prices [5][6][7][8]. ...
... Not only do tiny houses tend to be more affordable and associated with lower household expenses and thereby present a solution to the tense housing situation, but they also present a lower environmental burden than large houses for various reasons [2,13]. A study conducted in Australia by Crawford and Stephan [3] showed that a tiny house could reduce per capita life cycle GHG emissions by 70% compared to an average Australian home. Tiny houses tend to consume fewer resources and energy during their construction and use, partly through use of natural, reused, or recycled materials [14][15][16]. ...
The lack of affordable housing and the considerable negative environmental impact of the housing sector pose significant challenges for policymakers. Tiny houses have been proposed as a potential solution, but there is still limited understanding of consumer behaviour and attitudes towards such solutions. This study looked at the adoption of tiny houses in Germany by applying the Theory of Planned Behaviour as a theoretical framework to explore demographic and socio-economic factors, motivations, and barriers for living in tiny houses. Data was collected through interviews and an online survey. The results showed a statistically significant positive relationship between intention to live in a tiny house and age, and a significant negative relationship between intention and current accommodation size. Main motivations found in this research were sustainability, cost reduction, freedom, minimalism, mobility, and a sense of community. The main barriers included legal restrictions and a negative perception of minimalism. The lessons learned from this research were: (1) COVID-19 had a negative impact on about 40% of participants, but a statistically significant positive impact on those who were already interested in small houses. (2) Although tiny houses located in cities would be preferable to meet the need for well-connected, high-density housing solutions for young and elderly people and to alleviate the housing shortage, most people seem to be interested in rather rural tiny houses. (3) Minimalism is both a motivator and a barrier to interest in tiny houses, but with a societal shift towards sustainability could become more of a motivator. (4) Interest in tiny homes often builds on financial constraints and limited alternative housing options. (5) The Theory of Planned Behaviour proved to be a sound theoretical framework for this research.
... Since TH can be built as ADUs, the TH literature has also drawn parallels with infill development and urban consolidation literatures (Arpent, 2018;Lessard, 2020Lessard, , 2021McConnell & Wiley, 2011;Nichols & Adams, 2013;Shearer & Burton, 2019;Wegmann & Chapple, 2014;Wegmann & Nemirow, 2011). The evaluation of the environmental impact of tiny houses and of the minimalist lifestyle often associated with the THM has also received a lot of attention (Carlin, 2014;Crawford & Stephan, 2020;Kilman, 2016;Saxton W., 2019;Lessard, 2020Lessard, , 2021. From an historical and sociotechnical perspective, a number of papers have noted that, while the THM emerged as a grassroot and radical movement, with its rise in popularity, the concept has been coopted and commodified by private profit seeking developers and by mainstream media (Anson, 2014;Hutchinson, 2016;Ingram, 2020;Lessard, 2021;Shearer & Burton, 2021). ...
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This article explores the tiny house movement as a contemporary example of alternative housing practices. Within the stories women tell about their tiny house journeys, we uncover diverse prefigurative practices and politics, which in turn invoke an expanded sense of fairness and agency in and through housing. Framed by Colin Ward’s work on dweller-control and self-help, the article draws on interviews with over 30 women from Europe, the UK, US, Australia, and South Africa. Through their experiences, we explore the growing place of the tiny house movement in the popular imagination. Individually, tiny houses offer an imperfect yet compelling alternative for their inhabitants. Collectively, the tiny house movement potentially advances a more just and equitable approach to housing by providing inspiration for those seeking to question apparently unassailable ideas about how we should live.
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This study examines how the green and digital transitions can be successful. Both the green and the digital transitions are political priorities of the European Commission that will shape our future in the long-term. While these two simultaneous, or ‘twin’, transitions, can reinforce each other in many areas, they are not automatically aligned. For example, digital technologies have substantial environmental footprints that go against the targets of the green transition. This is why a proactive and integrative approach to managing the twin transitions is important to ensure their successful implementation. The goal of this study is to analyse how the European Union can make sure that these two transitions mutually reinforce each other. In doing so, the study focusses on five of the most greenhouse gas emitting sectors: 1) agriculture, 2) buildings and construction, 3) energy, 4) energy-intensive industries, and 5) transport and mobility. Based on this analysis, the report derives key requirements for the success of the
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This paper analyzes recent developments within the tiny house niche from a sustainability transition perspective through a case study in Quebec, Canada. The methods include documentation of tiny house developments and semi-structured interviews. The main findings are that most tiny houses in Quebec are being built as conventional, single-use, low-density, single-family detached home developments on greenfield in remote locations. Thus, recent developments in the tiny house niche resulted in incremental rather than radical changes to the housing regime practices. Furthermore, rural municipalities facing devitalisation are more prone to accepting greenfield development for their short-term benefits, while medium cities and municipalities in metropolitan areas are only planning to authorise tiny houses as accessory dwelling units as part of an infill development strategy. This suggests that tiny houses are contributing to a pattern of uneven geographical development. Interviews point at two systemic barriers that explain why tiny houses are developed in this way: the political economy of housing and sustainable urban planning policies and regulations. In the discussion, we suggest actions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to use the enthusiasm for tiny houses to further an urban sustainability transition agenda.
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In America, the average house size has increased from 1660 to 2596 ft² from 1973 to 2013 with home prices rising to more than nine times the average price in 1970. Additionally, the increase in urban sprawl and city dwelling has caused a 50% increase in the negative environmental impact of housing since the 1950s. Given these concerns, many people have reevaluated their needs and desires leading to the tiny house movement. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to examine tiny house dwellers’ motivations and understanding whether they are correlated to tiny house satisfaction. The Tiny House Community Survey was an online survey to assesses tiny house residents’ motivations for living tiny through seven diverse items (e.g., simpler life, sustainability, cost, etc.). Overall tiny house satisfaction was also measured by asking if the respondent was satisfied with his or her tiny house, captured on a five-point scale. Descriptive and multivariate analyses within SPSS 22.0 compared the motivations of tiny house dwellers according to a variety of socio-demographic and structural factors (e.g., gender, location, house size). Decreased costs, a simplified lifestyle, and increased freedom were salient motivations for more than half of the surveyed population. In examining the association between motivations and housing satisfaction, a simplified lifestyle was the only motivation held by respondents with significant relationship. Increased knowledge regarding tiny homes and their impact could help overcome some of the challenges faced by the tiny house community such as lack of awareness, legality concerns, and financing opportunities.
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The continued outward growth from a central business district has been the dominant characteristic of most cities in Australia. However, this feature is seen as unsustainable and alternative scenarios to contain the outward growth are being proposed. Melbourne is currently grappling with this issue while simultaneously trying to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Housing size, style and its location are the three principal factors which determine the emissions from the residential sector. This paper describes a methodology to assess the combined impact of these factors on past and possible future forms of residential development in Melbourne. The analysis found that the location of the housing and its size are the dominant factors determining energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. KeywordsGreenhouse gas emissions–House size–Style and location–Urban growth
The emergent tiny house movement is gaining momentum globally, in the United States where it originated, and in countries such as Australia. Little scholarly research exists on the tiny house movement, with most information limited to social and popular media. Moreover, there is limited information on the definition of a tiny house. As an important first step in bringing a more scholarly focus, this article presents a typology of tiny houses; what is a tiny house and what defining characteristics allow a tiny dwelling to be considered a tiny house? This study involved an analysis of social media, face to face interviews with key protagonists and a questionnaire survey, to establish a preliminary classification of tiny houses. We aimed to place the movement in its wider context, and establish a foundation for future research into the movement's potential to trigger positive economic and environmental change towards more sustainable urban environments.
A variety of methods can be used to compile a life cycle inventory (LCI) as part of a life cycle assessment (LCA) study. Hybrid LCI methods attempt to address the limitations inherent in more traditional process and input-output (IO) LCI methods. This paper provides an overview of the different hybrid LCI methods currently in use in an attempt to provide greater clarity around how each method is applied and their specific strengths and weaknesses. A search of publications quoting the use of hybrid LCI was undertaken for the period from 2010 to 2015, identifying 97 peer-reviewed publications referencing the use of a hybrid LCI. In over one third of the literature analysed, authors only refer to their analysis as a hybrid LCI, without naming the actual method used, making it difficult to fully understand which method was used and any potential limitations. Based on the way in which the various hybrid methods are applied and their existing use, the authors propose a set of clear definitions for existing hybrid LCI methods. This assists in creating a better understanding of, and confidence in, applying hybrid LCI methods amongst LCA practitioners, potentially leading to a greater uptake of hybrid LCI.
In the last few years, tiny houses have been promoted as a new, eco-friendly housing solution to combat the current waste of the housing industry. This article provides a review of the current literature regarding tiny houses and an examination of tiny house communities through the lens of the three-pronged approach to sustainability. This approach encompasses environmental, social, and economic considerations to provide a holistic examination of the sustainability of the tiny house movement.
Building energy efficiency regulations often focus solely on operational and thermal energy demands. Increasing building thermal energy efficiency is most often undertaken by increasing insulation thickness and installing high performance windows. These measures can result in a significant increase in embodied energy which is currently not considered in building energy regulations. This study uses a case study house in Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia to investigate the life cycle primary energy repercussions of increasing building energy efficiency levels over 50 years. It uses the comprehensive hybrid approach and a dynamic software tool to quantify embodied and operational energy, respectively. It considers material and design-related changes in order to improve energy efficiency as well as a combination of both. Results show that while increasing the envelope thermal energy performance yields thermal operational energy savings, these can be offset by the additional embodied energy required for supplementary insulation materials and efficient windows. The point at which supplementary insulation materials do not yield life cycle energy benefits is just above current minimum energy efficiency requirements in Australia. In order to reduce a building's life cycle energy demand, more comprehensive regulations are needed. These should combine embodied and operational energy and emphasise design strategies.
As a consequence of the improved quality of thermal properties of buildings due to energy regulations, overall energy use associated with building characteristics is decreasing, making the role of the occupant more important. Studies have shown that occupant behaviour might play a prominent role in the variation in energy consumption in different households but the extent of such influence is unknown. The impact of the building's thermal characteristics on space heating demand has been well studied. There is however, little work done that incorporates the impact of consumer behaviour. This study aims to gain greater insight into the effect of occupant behaviour on energy consumption for space heating by determining its effect on the variation of energy consumption in dwellings while controlling for building characteristics. The KWR database from the Ministry of Housing in the Netherlands was used. This study showed that occupant characteristics and behaviour significantly affect energy use (4.2%), but building characteristics still determine a large part of the energy use in a dwelling (42%). Further analysis showed that some occupant behaviour is determined by the type of dwelling or HVAC systems and, therefore, the effect of occupant characteristics might be larger than expected, since these determine the type of dwelling.
Small house, big impact: the effect of tiny houses on community and environment
  • Kilman