Paul Anka nailed it when he wrote "You are My Density"- A new study by SMR on "Consumer Energy Spending And The Demographics Of Over-Consumption" presents some pretty disturbing results about the subject. Basically, just about everything anyone does to save energy and build more energy efficient housing is overwhelmed by the consistently increasing number of square feet per person. The study found that single person households grew by 350%, from 3.33 persons per household to 2.56 people per household. People who live alone use 18.4 % more energy than two person households and a whopping 52.8% more than three person households. SMR President Stuart A. Feldstein is quoted by the Urban Land Institute:
"People who decide to live alone, now more than one of every four households, and people who buy the McMansions, are those who squander our energy resources."
It isn't just that there are fewer people in the houses, it is the size of them.
Data show that consumer energy usage per capita is 29.6% higher today than it would have been in 1960, based solely on the sharp decline in the number of people per household.
The study also found that McMansions (defined as houses with more than ten rooms) use 18.8% more energy than eight room houses, and 31.3% more than seven room houses, regardless of the age of the house.
So we can talk about caulk, increase our building code standards, but if we don't deal with density it is all for naught. TH previously proposed making codes absolute rather than relative- giving a fixed quantity of energy consumption for each dwelling, regardless of size; thus a McMansion might need twice as much insulation as a small house. Or perhaps the marketplace is taking care of this issue on its own.....
More on house size and population density in TreeHugger
Monster Homes: Enough is Enough
Quote of the Day: Monique Cole on Big Green Exurban Houses
The Net-Zero Energy Now House is Really Boring.