Decarbonising suburbia: Homeowners’ perspectives on home retrofits and travel mode shift in Perth, Scotland

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Suburban neighbourhoods pose challenges to decarbonisation, due to high car-dependency and relatively large and energy inefficient homes. Home ownership dominates suburbia, thus putting responsibility on households to adopt measures to decarbonise their domestic lives and transportation. This paper examines household perspectives on the feasibility of such measures. We ran a survey and focus groups in Perth (Scotland) during the energy crisis. Whilst we found high levels of concern about climate change, energy costs, and growing engagement with cleaner technologies (e.g. heat pumps), most residents felt decarbonisation options were limited. Barriers like technologies’ up-front costs, worsened with the cost of living crisis. Participants had low familiarity with sharing economy approaches like car clubs. Despite high (non-electric) bike ownership and prevalence of storage space (garages), cycling was more perceived as a leisure activity than a regular transport mode. There were shared views that the state should take a stronger role in coordinating and implementing systemic changes required for energy transition, including measures affecting residents directly, like reducing car traffic into the city centre. We conclude that despite the economic privilege of high home and car ownership in suburbia, few felt financially able to decarbonise and most seem locked into high-carbon suburban lifestyles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288 - 310
JournalMoravian Geographical Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2023


  • active travel
  • energy efficiency
  • mobility
  • neighbourhood
  • Perth
  • Suburban


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