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Justice in Building, Building in Justice: The Reconstruction of Intragenerational Equity in Framings of Sustainability in the Eco-Building Movement

Kelvin Mason

Environmental Values 23 (2014): 99-118. doi: 10.3197/096327114X13851122269124


This paper begins with the observation that the contemporary eco-building movement in the UK focuses on technology with the principal aim of reducing carbon emissions and so combating climate change. While this focus may translate into justice for future generations, there seems markedly less regard for justice for others in intragenerational space. I analyse the eco-building movement's framings of sustainable development and sustainability, seeking out statements of equity via the criteria used for building materials selection. Closely defining equity as theory and practice, analysis reveals that framings of sustainable development and sustainability in the eco-building movement vary considerably in their engagement with intragenerational equity. This begs the question of whether the movement has a shared political critique. There is a marked tendency to view discourses of environmental sustainability and social justice as distinct rather than mutually constitutive. I propose that the eco-building movement should engage in a politics of the common good (Sandel, 2010), contesting equity in the public domain. Wary of the reach of markets, the eco-building movement should debate not only the right way to distribute building materials and shelter but also the right way to value them.


Eco-building, sustainable development, equity, justice

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Editorial: Seeking Sustainability. Clive L. Spash

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