Should greens buy eco-homes?
From an ecological point of view my house is rubbish. It was built 110 years ago when the ventilation to prevent rot was seen as more important than energy efficiency, it has solid brick walls, it is the northern one of a pair of semis and it is down in a dip where the sun seldom strikes when we need it in the depth of winter. We have done what we can to improve it from a carbon point of view - blocking holes in the wall, replacing single with triple glazing, doubling the attic insulation and adding some to smaller roof cavities, upgrading the boiler and putting in a solar hot water system, but I doubt the house has a better carbon footprint than a well made modern house. I have a dream of building my own zero carbon home, but the question remains, why don't I move into a well built modern home? My personal carbon footprint would be instantly cut.
The simple answer is location, location, location. I live within walking/cycling distance of the city centre in a wooded river valley where I can hear the owls cry in the night. You can't beat that on many levels.
But, more importantly, would a non-green have lavished the eco-love (and money!) on this house that it needed? Probably not, and while I was tucked up in a modern house feeling smug, someone would be sitting in this one, complaining about the fuel bill, while the inefficient boiler pumped out the carbon.
So, with a huge number of poorly performing houses out there, there is a strong argument that greens should buy houses with a huge carbon footprint and do their best to cut that footprint as much as possible, going above and beyond what a home owner would normally do. Then Joe and/or Jo Public can buy a modern house and have a lower carbon footprint by default. Everyone's a winner!