In this chapter we have examined the niche practices of two alternative, innovative sustainable housing projects, and considered their potential to influence wider society. The initiatives were found to successfully achieve sustainable consumption, according to the New Economics indicators, through the use of local, recycled materials, inclusive construction techniques, and emphasis on reducing material throughput both in building and inhabitation of the dwellings, and in enabling self-build and autonomy from mainstream utility services. They each present a viable - if currently small scale - response to the need to mitigate climate change by reducing energy use, and adapt to the demands of changing climates. However, despite both initiatives aiming to spread their ideas through a variety of cognitive and social learning techniques, their influence on volume housebuilding to date has been minimal. It is clear that the innovations described here are radical versions of sustainable housing, not necessarily suitable for scaling up or widespread replication; however, the scope for niche lessons to be adopted by mainstream builders is greater. Studying the interactions between niche and regime reveals possibilities and obstacles for diffusion of ideas, and this theme is returned to in Chapter 8.
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