Factors and actions for the sustainability of the residential sector. The nexus of energy, materials, space, and time use

Laura Pérez-Sánchez*, Raul Velasco Fernandez, Mario Giampietro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Residential end-uses represent a significant share of final energy consumption and material stocks. However, approaching sustainability of the residential sector merely as an environmental technical problem is insufficient. Home is the center of daily life providing essential functions to people. Household metabolism is not a matter of the sum of individual behaviors, typologies of buildings, or energy uses stripped out of context, but the system that emerges from the historical combination of these elements and the functions it performs. The residential sector comprises both families (units of organized individuals) and dwellings (within municipalities/urban forms). To analyze these dynamics, we draw upon practice theory and Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) illustrating with data from Sweden and Spain in 2015. The objective is to establish an interdisciplinary framework for analyzing the sustainability of the residential sector. We also present a list of possible measures and their trade-offs in diverse dimensions: energy carrier consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, materials, floor area, human activity, social organization and institutions, finance and desirability. Even though the inclusion of all variables in a single model is not feasible, the holistic understanding of household metabolism can help build coherent anticipation scenarios by selecting plausible hypotheses. Ul- timately, this allows making profound transformations to sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112388
Pages (from-to)112388
Number of pages22
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue numberJuly 2021
Early online dateApr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Construction sector
  • Energy efficiency
  • Household metabolism
  • Nexus
  • Social innovation
  • Sufficiency


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