The dominance of single-family homes may be coming to a close. Insider magazine highlights how many millennials, the next generation of homeowners, were drawn towards communal living arrangements over the past year or so. Perhaps more crucially, that doesn’t just mean renting rooms in the same house – it means sharing everything, from resolving conflicts within the home, to energy and heating, to food use and waste reduction. Communal living is a futuristic solution that, perhaps ironically, brings modern living back to the way it might have been centuries ago, and in turn creates real sustainability.
When issues like antisocial behavior, crime and noise pollution occur, it can be difficult for individual residents of a neighborhood to rectify them promptly. Local authorities and the police are often slow to act. In many cases, resolution falls to individuals and, increasingly, communal conflict resolution services – either within a contained unit or within a HOA. One HOA Management Company highlights that HOAs are increasingly doing positive work to help resolve conflict; indeed, another in Arizona has been highlighted by USA Today as making real positive impacts in residents lives – beyond what they might have enjoyed in a non-managed property.
Removing this stress from communal living is a great way to enhance the living standards of everyone in that accommodation. According to Dazed Digital, up to 45% of individuals living in rented accommodation derive stress directly from that experience, often in shared condos and other mass occupancy operations. Tackling that improves the lot of everyone in the building and opens the door to new ways of cooperation.
Heat and energy
True communal living means more than simply cohabitation. Instead, it means sharing the means and ways of utilities and amenities within a living area – and that includes heat, light and energy. There have been strides in this field over the past decade.
Heat pumps are not new technology; as one journal published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews highlights how they can have a transformative impact in de-carbonizing industry. A somewhat newer use of them is in residential accommodation. Having a central heating facility in which heating can be generated on demand for each property unit, built into the architecture of homes through their very walls, can be a game-changer. This also presents the prospect of communal areas. Heat pumps located in central utility huts can be designed from the exterior as a central embankment and area for residents to enjoy communal space and, using residual heat, to create areas of green growth that have an all-round relaxed aura. This can also help in the problem of tackling food waste.
The impact of food waste is becoming hugely impactful on the American environment. It’s also something that can be tackled through communal living. The Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation highlights how sustainable communal living systems can, where food waste measures are built into the home – such as a level of automation in composting, and green landscapes that lend themselves to growth in urban environments – could have a transformative impact on ecological decline in the USA.
Communal living can also help by creating a system where residents can pitch together to grow their own crops. Recycle Now estimates that composting can have an all-in effect in combating climate change, by reducing emissions and reducing food waste which, in turn, creates waste of its own. Having architecturally designed communal areas in which to convert residual heat and energy, and turn that to compost systems, provides a way for communal residents to connect and contribute to improving their own environment.
Remote working life
What these communal spaces can achieve in the long-run is a new form of modern community. Research analyzed by the SHRM reveals how remote working damages collaboration and interconnectedness. Home workers struggle to obtain the same level of joy they might in the office when it comes to communication, and as a result, the prospect of chronic loneliness is being raised in private homes. Spaces that are made by design to foster communication and that sense of community will help to tackle the issues of remote working, and help workers to enjoy the benefits of working away from the office while still knowing that their home provides a sense of community and sustainability.
The sustainable future is a cooperative one. Individuals and families stand to benefit in a number of ways by sharing life inside of their residential units. With technology to help, those shared experiences can be a huge benefit to the environment. As remote working becomes the norm, the shape and size of living spaces need to change to suit. That can only be achieved with long-term planning and thinking outside of the box.