Which services enhance ecological, social and
economic sustainability of households?
Discussion and intermediate conclusions
This paper has taken some preliminary steps to outline the concept of sustainable homeservice. We suggested two definitions, a general and specific one. In general, a sustainable service for households can be considered a service that relates to living at home and contributes positively to sustainable development in all dimensions. However, we contended that all sustainability conditions – environmental, social and economic – are difficult to fulfil simultaneously and therefore it may be useful for pragmatic reasons to accept that a sustainable service is one that satisfy two of the three. We find that for the time being there are no absolute criteria for measuring sustainability of specific services directed to households. There is some previous literature on criteria for eco-efficiency of services; that is on environmental sustainabity. However, as regards social and economic sustainability, we are so far left with only macro-level indicators to draw on. Consequently, ourindicators for social and economic sustainability are at a beginning level. We put forward a set of sustainability indicators that are possible to evaluate along an ordinal scale, where the point of reference is status quo, in other words the current situation without the existence of the service.
Furthermore, we discussed alternative institutional arrangements through which services contributing to sustainability can be supplied to households. Altogether, we proposed seven options of supplying these services. Five of them require greater or lesser involvement from the housing organization, whereas as two options of supply are independent of it. In the independent option the service is created via socially organized self-help or by offered directly to residents by an external service provider.