Household Power: How Much is Enough?

ABSTRACT: High-performance building design is a technique for maximizing useful power,
for extracting more work from the same amount of energy-a prime goal of engineering .
Yet the fact that most individual households seek to maintain and enhance acquired levels
of power is rarely considered. By expanding the subject from houses to households,
the question of performance is focused instead on people, who are the rea l engines of
consumption and environmental effect. Questions about the performance of houses
haven’t been fully answered until we understand the ecological impact of our complex
social arrangements, which are themselves tools fo r increasing productivity and supporting
larger populations. The reduction of consumption is an important first tactic in a wealthy
and wasteful civilization, but not entirely the solution, for the ultimate goal is to arrive at a
sustainable balance of population andABSTRACT: High-performance building design is a technique for maximizing useful power,
for extracting more work from the same amount of energy-a prime goal of engineering .
Yet the fact that most individual households seek to maintain and enhance acquired levels
of power is rarely considered. By expanding the subject from houses to households,
the question of performance is focused instead on people, who are the rea l engines of
consumption and environmental effect. Questions about the performance of houses
haven’t been fully answered until we understand the ecological impact of our complex
social arrangements, which are themselves tools fo r increasing productivity and supporting
larger populations. The reduction of consumption is an important first tactic in a wealthy
and wasteful civilization, but not entirely the solution, for the ultimate goal is to arrive at a
sustainable balance of population and consumption. consumption.

ABSTRACT: High-performance building design is a technique for maximizing useful power, for extracting more work from the same amount of energy-a prime goal of engineering . Yet the fact that most individual households seek to maintain and enhance acquired levels of power is rarely considered. By expanding the subject from houses to households, the question of performance is focused instead on people, who are the real  engines of consumption and environmental effect. Questions about the performance of houses haven’t been fully answered until we understand the ecological impact of our complex social arrangements, which are themselves tools for increasing productivity and supporting larger populations. The reduction of consumption is an important first tactic in a wealthy and wasteful civilization, but not entirely the solution, for the ultimate goal is to arrive at a  sustainable balance of population and consumption.

“Household Power: How Much is Enough?” in Design and Construction of High Performance Homes: Solar Technology, Innovative Materials and Integrated Practice, Franca Trubiano, Ed. (Routledge, 2012)