Comfort in a Lower Carbon Society: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Comfort in a Lower Carbon Society

1st Edition

Edited by Elizabeth Shove, Heather Chappells, Loren Lutzenhiser


130 pages

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pub: 2013-08-07
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Current expectations and standards of comfort are almost certainly unsustainable and new methods and ideas will be required if there is to be any prospect of a significantly lower carbon society. This collection reassesses relationships between people and the multitude of environments they inhabit in the context of increasing carbon intensities of everyday life. In this bold and unconventional volume historians, sociologists, environmentalists, geographers, and cultural theorists provoke and stimulate debate about the future of comfort in a lower carbon society. These contributions are then subject to critical commentary from a range of academic and policy perspectives. The result is a book that promotes academic and policy discussion of the environmental consequences of indoor climate change around the world, and that offers new perspectives and strategies for moving towards a lower carbon future.

This book was published as a special issue of Building Research & Information.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Comfort in a Lower Carbon Society (Elizabeth Shove, Sociology, Lancaster University; Heather Chappells, Geography, Lancaster University; Loren Lutzenhiser, Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University; Bruce Hackett, Sociology, UC Davis)

2. Air-conditioning and the ‘homogenization’ of people and built environments (Stephen Healy, University of New South Wales)

3. Re-contextualizing the notion of comfort (Raymond Cole, Architecture, UBC; John Robinson, Zosia Brown, Meg O’Shea, IRES, University of British Columbia)

4. Conquering winter: US consumers and the cast iron stove (Howell Harris, History, Durham University, UK.)

5. Growth in mobile air-conditioning: a socio-technical research agenda (Graham Parkhurst and Richard Parnaby, Built Environment, University of the West of England)

6. Understanding heat wave vulnerability in nursing and residential homes (Sam Brown and Gordon Walker, Geography, University of Lancaster)

7. Escaping the house: comfort and the California garden (Gail Cooper, History, Lehigh University, USA)

8. Comfort expectations: the impact of demand-management strategies in Australia (Yolande Strengers, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia)

9. New standards for comfort and energy in building (J F Nicol and M A Humphreys)


10. The conditioning of comfort (Harold Wilhite, SUM, University of Oslo)

11. Comfort in a brave new world (Ian Cooper, Eclipse Consultants, Cambridge)

12. Are Comfort Expectations of Building Occupants Too High? (Mithra Moezzi, Ghoulem Research, San Rafael, California.)

13. Cold Comfort in a High Carbon Society? (Jim Skea OBE, Director, UK Energy Research Centre, Imperial College)

14. Studying thermal comfort in context (Russell Hitchings, Geography, UCL)

About the Author/Editors

Elizabeth Shove is professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. She has written widely on theories of practice, technology, consumption, environment and everyday life. She is co editor (with Frank Trentmann and Rick Wilk) of Time, Consumption and Everyday Life: Practices, materiality and culture (Berg, forthcoming 2009).

Heather Chappells is honorary research fellow in Geography at Lancaster University. She has undertaken several projects examining the social, institutional and cultural dimensions of sustainable consumption, provision and practices in the UK energy and water sectors - including Future Comforts: Reconditioning indoor environments with Elizabeth Shove (ESRC, 2003-2004).

Loren Lutzenhiser is Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. His research focuses on the environmental impacts of socio-technical systems, particularly how urban energy and resource use is related to global environmental change.

About the Series

Building Research and Information

BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION (BRI) is a leading international refereed journal focussed on buildings and their supporting systems. Unique to BRI is a focus on a holistic, transdisciplinary approach to buildings and the complexity of issues involving the built environment with other systems over the course of their life. In order to build upon the messages of the Journal, Earthscan from Routledge is launching a new book series under the same editorship of Richard Lorch. The book series shares similar aims and scope to the Journal but will allow for an even deeper discussion around the issues raised, together with more practical material.

In particular the new series is looking to explore the linkages between the built, natural, social and economic environments, with an emphasis on the interactions between theory, policy and practice. Also impacts on ecologies, resources (water, energy, air, materials, building stocks, etc.), sustainable development (social, economic, environmental and natural capitals) and climate change (mitigation and adaptation) will be in scope. As with the Journal the performance, impacts, assessment, contributions, improvement and value of buildings, building stocks and related systems will also be included.

New interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches need an international forum for information and discussion. BRI has followed this evolution and this new book series will aim to reflect that same breadth of subject matter and contributions. We will also strive for the same levels of editorial innovation and feedback that have made the Journal so popular.

If you wish to contribute to the series then contact either the series Editor , Richard Lorch at or the Commissioning Editor, Ed Needle with a short note about your ideas.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HOUSE & HOME / Sustainable Living
SCIENCE / Energy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban