Page 20 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
“It encapsulates a lot of my values.” (W4)
“We have already invested heavily in ecologically friendly communities elsewhere… We
wanted it to be a location in which transport would be fairly close to where we would
need to work.” (W2)
“I had worked in a architecture firm that specialised in doing green architecture so I was
kind of familiar with a lot of the concepts and the hardware that goes with a house like
this, and I’ve always felt that buildings needed to be as sustainably designed as possible,
not only for minimising energy use but also for comfort levels for people.” (W6)
Residents of WestWyck tended to come from a background of high-level knowledge and practical
engagement with sustainability/ecological concepts. This is in contrast to householders at Aurora, none
of whom indicated that they had lived previously with alternative systems or according to sustainable/
ecological values. Sustainability features were mentioned as a reason for moving only in relation to the lower
utility costs promoted by the developers. Although some householders were aware and supportive of the
principles incorporated in the Aurora development, interviews suggested that this awareness is more recent
and less developed:
“A couple of people, our neighbours, they also like the idea of all these energy saving
things, I’m not sure whether that’s the general idea here in Aurora though.” (A3)
“Learning about recycled water and… solar power gas boosted hot water and, you know,
sustainable building, and sighting of the, the houses on the blocks and what not. Oh okay,
I was in like Flynn.” (A7)
The backgrounds, life experiences and family status of interviewees at each case study location are very
different and will influence the ways that household practices are configured, how they have changed, and
attitudes and responses to resilience.
Changes in practices
This section includes adaptive and maladaptive changes in householders’ everyday practices at WestWyck
and Aurora, and changes in their interactions with stakeholders as a consequence of living with alternative
For residents of
, living in a community with these systems tended to be described as a
continuation, reinforcement or extension of their existing/previous ways of living in terms of energy and water
use. These householders were already highly engaged with sustainable practices and so this ‘carrying’ of
previous knowledge and capacity is generally positive. Changes in practices observed at WestWyck have
largely been in response to broader design features of the homes in which the systems operate. Overall,
these features have a resoundingly positive effect on living comfort:
“It’s not hard to regulate the heating and cooling in this place.” (W3)
“Certainly lower energy bills and, comfort levels that you don’t have to turn on air
conditioning and you don’t have to have your heating on high” (W7)
However, certain features produce conditions that require a negotiated response. For example, open-
plan and/or lack of venting can make it difficult to retain warmth and achieve passive cooling (especially
in upstairs areas). Window size, orientation and the use of materials also affect comfort in certain areas
of the home, which in turn affects associated practices. Depending on the interviewees’ values, previous
experience, capacity and tolerance of discomfort, these features have led to both adaptive and maladaptive
changes. Residents also talk about moving downstairs to sleep during prolonged periods of hot weather
(adaptive), wearing more clothes for warmth (adaptive), drying laundry on banisters and racks in winter
(adaptive), and using stand-alone electric heaters for certain areas and occasions, such as working from
home, or when entertaining guests (maladaptive).