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Media discourses on low carbon housing

20 May 2014

Decarbonising housing is a key UK government policy to mitigate climate change.

The UK government has a commitment, in England, to deliver zero carbon homes from 2016 and in Wales; The Welsh Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 3% a year from 2011 in areas of devolved policy. In light of these targets researchers from the Sustainable Places Research Institute and the Understanding Risk Group at Cardiff University have been using discourse analysis to assess how low carbon housing is portrayed within British broadsheet media.

In this paper three distinct storylines were identified. Dominating the discourse, Zero carbon housing promotes new-build, low carbon houses as offering high technology solutions to the climate problem. Retrofitting homes emphasises the need to reduce emissions within existing housing, tackling both climate change and rising fuel prices. A more marginal discourse, Sustainable living, frames low carbon houses as related to individual identities and 'off-grid' or greener lifestyles.

The analysis demonstrates that technical and economic paradigms dominate media discourse on low carbon housing, marginalizing social and behavioural story lines.

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