Are you living up to your environmental potential? Residents in a number of British eco towns could see government monitoring to make sure that they are keeping their carbon footprint to the right size. One of the most interesting things about this push is that it isn’t coming from the British Government directly, I suppose it would be a bit of a political hot potato. The Bioregional firm, which initiated the low energy BedZed housing estate in south London is asking the government to ensure that the carbon footprint of residents in the proposed eco towns (ten of which are in the works) are no larger then allowed under the principals of “one planet” living.
Some of the ways that it wants residents monitored are tracking of the number of trips residents take by car, Thermographic cameras to check which homes are losing too much heat, and measurement of the types of waste produced, and how much they produce by both residences and businesses.
“If eco towns are to have a fundamental purpose, it must be to show us how we can all achieve one-planet living,” said Richard Simmons, chief executive of Cabe. “Eco towns should show us, in a real and measured way, what our sustainable future will look like.”
Some critics of the towns themselves are against the regulations saying that the government has no business taking this sort of a heavy handed oversight on residents. Suggesting that the eco towns will be giant ‘gulags.’
Of course a simple way to avoid the monitoring would be to not buy a home in an eco town, but it does beg the question of just how much of an active role should the government take in enforcing the low carbon footprint ideal behind these plans?
What do you think?
Video Tour of the BedZed Development
We received a comment from Tom Chance of Bioregional who had some great things to say about the monitoring. Since he is speaking directly from the company we are going to include them up here with the post.
“It’s worth noting that the reporting in The Guardian was a bit mischeivous. We haven’t been calling for monitoring of individuals as a means of enforcing particular lifestyles. Rather, our report (if you read it) lays out a number of ways in which eco-towns developers should monitor the success of their plans so that we can better learn from then. Any monitoring would have to be completely voluntary.
We have taken this approach at BedZED, where 75% of residents voluntarily had their meter readings recorded, waste weighed and answered questionnaires. All the results are anonymised, and used to help us learn how to better design sustainable communities.
The alternative – not monitoring at all – would be a complete nonsense, it would mean we’d have no evidence to improve the way we design communities!”