Why it will be imperative to reduce the size of rental properties

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The thesis research, performed by civil engineering student Margarita Agriantoni, is based on computer simulations of different housing development scenarios over the next 30 years (from 2020 to 2050). Her findings come as a stark warning to both the owners and tenants of residential dwellings: if we want to significantly reduce Switzerland’s housing-related energy use, the entire industry needs to rethink its practices, from the way homes are designed and built to how they’re used.

Around 58% of Swiss households rent their homes. The average dwelling surface of these homes has risen steadily over the past few years, as has the floor area per capita – a metric correlated directly with a building’s environmental footprint. Nowadays, a 100 m2 apartment, for example, is constructed or heated the same way if it is intended for two or four people. “Floor area per capita is the key figure we need to reduce over the long term in order to achieve more sustainable housing,” says Agriantoni. “But the trend today is actually going in the other direction. That’s especially problematic in a country like Switzerland where both the population and the demand for housing are growing constantly, but residences are getting harder to find.”

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