The wheel within the wheel : efficiency, sustainability, & the technological network of housing production
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This study began by asking whether technology and design based strategies alone are sufficient strategies for environmental problem solving, or whether social change might also be required. It has focused in particular on the relationship between efficiency and consumption as a vehicle for examining this question, specifically addressing the traditional argument that gains in technological efficiency will reduce consumption and therefore the demand placed on natural resource stocks. It has revealed that at least in the case of wood use in housing production in the United States, efficiency gains have been offset by the combined effects of a number of social and technological forces, including public policies that encourage consumption and building characteristics that seem to do so as well. In other words, this study has re-confirmed rebound effects, in which the "positive potential" of efficiency gains to reduce the demand placed on resource stocks has been eroded by the interaction of various components of what I have termed the technological system of housing production. In short, this study suggests that at least in the case of efficiency and the demand placed on natural resource stocks, technology and design based strategies alone are insufficient for effective problem solving.