Environmental benefits

Helping the environment with companion housing hand holding green leaf

Companion housing is not only adequate for you but also the environment. Sharing homes reduces the need to build more homes while reducing our per capital energy consumption.

As we learned in the first chapter, we have never been so over-housed as a society. Sharing homes allows our existing real estate to be used more efficiently so everyone can benefit. Most homes in North America that are suitable for companion housing tend to be located in well-established neighbourhoods and desirable locations. Using these houses as companion homes allows more people to be housed in lovely homes without the need for construction or re-development of neighbourhoods. This helps us preserve the natural landscape, environment, and character of our neighbourhoods.

Reducing footprint

As energy costs and demands increase, living a more sustainable lifestyle can make a big difference. To add some context, energy for heating, cooling, and powering households is one of the largest global greenhouse gas emitters (GHG). Residential homes in America emit more GHG emissions than the entire countries of Brazil and Germany. Canada’s energy use is even greater per capita than the United States by 10-25%.

Energy usage is not just related to use in the home. Energy for transportation and manufacturing needs to be considered as part of the equation. Companion housing allows for the sharing of appliances and items in the home, ultimately reducing personal consumption. That shopping trip you do with your housing companions can not only be fun, but it can also help save our environment.

A sustainable housing solution

It turns out that living together also can potentially impact the sustainability of the entire housing economy. How?

  1. Companion housing contributes a boost to the current housing inventory without requiring any additional construction.  Every spare room that is offered is one less that requires new construction. This saves considerable resources, land, and energy.
  2. CO2 emissions per person are reduced by sharing high energy consumption activities like heating and air conditioning. Research from Colorado State University (Frestad et al., 2017) has shown each member added to a home can reduce per-capita emissions by 6%.

Exercise

How does your environmental footprint compare to others in your city and country? Try the environmental footprint calculator to see what your footprint is.

Click the self reflection exercise below to access the calculator.

Self reflection