Two new studies of cohousing and sustainability

In a study of Collaborative Behaviour in Urban Cohousing,
three students at the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden, have explored the potential and reality of cohousing in relation to changes to less unsustainable lifestyles. Studying concrete cohousing units in Canada, Denmark, Sweden and the US, they find that although those living in cohousing units generally consume less and share more, there is little or no impact on the behavior of people in the surrounding community. Nor is this – or even to cut consumption internally – always a goal for the cohousing units.The study, published in 2013, ends with a series of recommendations to the cohousing movements in the four countries.

In the other study, published at Lund University, Sweden in 2013, focus is on Work, Community and Sustainability. One way to move towards sustainability is to recognize and support the sharing of goods and services within local communities. Cohousing units are organized to do exactly this. The study explores work and everyday life in two cohousing units, one in Sweden and one in Austria, to identify their potential as growth points for change in this respect in the wider society. The author concludes: Although marginal in society, cohousing contributes to a sustainable society and fulfills some prerequisites needed for an extended view on work. “Cohousing is a ‘strategy from below’ to achieve change. …in the long-term, small steps can lead to structural changes.”

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