A regular column from Chew Valley Area Forum Climate & Nature Emergency Working Group, collaborating with local people to reduce the carbon footprint of the Chew Valley. This month, something from our Steering Group on multiple generations living together:
Multiple generations of a family live together under one roof has been a common practice in many cultures throughout history. However, with the rise of modernization and individualism, particularly in the UK, this traditional way of living has become less prevalent.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in multi-generational living, (MGL) driven by various factors including economic considerations, changing family dynamics, and a desire for closer family ties. With the number of larger houses in the Chew Valley, could we see more multi-generational living occurring?
MGL offers various benefits beyond financial considerations. It can provide emotional support, shared caregiving responsibilities, and a sense of community within the family. Beyond the family unit, an MGL family can enrich a community providing a broader age demographic contributing to community interaction and engagement.
Finding and sharing the space to provide harmony, privacy and independence can be the challenge. If you have a larger house, parts of the house can be given over to younger or older generations to have their own space. Increasingly, households that do not have sufficient space are converting garages, outbuildings or building small annexes in gardens to provide suitable space to make MGL work.
New living space can be constructed to tailor needs of family members including : compact living space designed for one person, efficient heating and insulation to provide comfortable living conditions and a degree of separation that allow younger and older generations to cultivate and maintain independent living and socialising.
Building work to create may require planning permission and building regulations to complete but applicants should find their planning authorities and parish councils sympathetic to development required to create MGL.
And the environmental impact?
Multi-generational living can have many positive environmental benefits : it can lead to more efficient use and sharing of resources, reduced energy consumption, and a smaller carbon footprint. Shared transportation can reduce the number of vehicles on the road resulting in lower fuel consumption and emissions.
To illustrate the potential environmental benefits of multi-generational living, consider the case of a family of four generations living together. Instead of each generation occupying separate houses, they decide to live under one roof. This arrangement allows them to reduce their overall energy consumption by sharing resources and spaces. For instance, they can share a single kitchen, reducing the number of appliances needed and minimizing energy usage. Additionally, they can carpool or use public transportation, resulting in fewer vehicles on the road and reduced emissions.
MGL can foster a culture of sustainability, where family members can collectively adopt eco-friendly practices such as recycling, composting, and energy conservation.