What type of policy would be able to both reduce energy/water consumption in housing and at the same time prevent a larger burden on low-income households?
Expert Pernilla Hagbert: “After discussing with my colleagues who are more knowledgable in the various tariff structures and systems for individual metering and billing, I am even more convinced there is (unfortunately) not a single answer to the question. As usually when going from problem-oriented to policy-oriented, it is always difficult to dare to put something out there to med tested. As with much other policy regarding equal or equitable tariffs, there is often lacking a systemic point of view, which was a main conclusion and point of discussion in our particular study. Let me articulate this a bit:
Volumetric billing is not a negative in itself, internalizing externalities is a necessary step in the right direction for targeting energy and resource consumption. In this particular case, however, the consequences of the implemented system and tariff structure were, although successful in reducing consumption, unfortunate and troublesome from an ethical perspective. The use of a general model, as in this case, is not an effective way of targeting individual household consumption, but at the same time integrity issues offer an argument for keeping generality.
A proposed alternative to the tariff scheme in the study would be to consider the individual household prerequisites, mainly the number of inhabitants, as the existing tariff is based on a general assumption of water consumption based on the number of rooms in the apartment, not the occupancy. Another main issue is the difference in water use depending on cultural, employment or family situation. A stay-at-home mother with 3 children will use significantly more water during the course of a day than someone working and spending most of the day outside of the home. The same goes for unemployed, where an already strained financial situation means much time is spent at home, consuming water and thus paying more. Alternative tariff structures that includes socio-economic dimensions is discussed for example in Barberán and Arbués (2009).
The implementation in this particular case was not driven by environmental concern, but rather to maximize the savings for the private real estate owner/manager. It begs to question the appropriateness of such implementations and if this is actually where we should be targeting consumption? What I am trying to get at is that it might be difficult to create a policy for a system that in itself is perhaps not correct or a misdirected effort, even if it is in line with a political agenda. This of course goes back to the question (we all struggle with) of deep versus surface measures and the actual implications of the goal towards a sustainable housing sector?”
What is the impact of tourism on mono-functional planning?
Expert Jin Xue: “Regarding this question, the prompt answer coming to my mind is that: the development of tourist resorts and vacation homes led by the boom of tourism usually has mono-functional purpose and land use, in particular when these areas are located outside the urban areas and poorly connected to the cities. However, I think if the tourist resorts are distributed within the cities, it may lead to the development of hotels, restaurants, and commercial areas in the surrounding areas, but the population groups that these areas serve are tourists, not locals whose dwellings and public services are separated from the tourists resorts.”