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Zero carbon homes and zero carbon living: sociomaterial interdependencies in carbon governance

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number4
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)494-506
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date14/07/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We consider in this paper the relations between built form and everyday practices of home-living. These we see as co-constituting a combined domestic carbon space in which sociomaterial interdependencies are constantly at work. Carbon emissions are necessarily caught up in these interdependencies and not separable from them. We use the case of the mainstreaming of zero carbon (zero-C) housing in the UK to explore whether conceiving of domestic carbon in properly sociomaterial terms reveals possibilities for, or resistances to, carbon governance objectives. We find strong resistances to the notion that zero-C might mean simultaneously creating ‘new normals’ of built form and ways of living, with market values and governance delineations resisting any sharing of responsibility for achieving zero-C between those building and those living in future homes. The slippery, contested and diminished calculation of zero-C has also been closely coupled to these ends. This case shows that resistances to carbon control can emerge in interdependent sociomaterial forms and are strengthened through that interdependency, such that carbon lock-in works through entwined forms of inertia. However, we argue that in other instances and spaces of carbon governance we might find alternative sociomaterial articulations that serve to configure the politics of change in more positive ways.

Bibliographic note

Date of Acceptance: 06/03/2015