RESIDENTS at a leading York eco-development have a greater average carbon footprint than in the rest of the city, a survey has revealed.

A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals that Derwenthorpe, intended by the foundation to be a green model for residential sustainability, has succeeded in creating eco-friendly, energy efficient homes.

But it says the survey showed the benefits had been lost at the 500-home project in eastern York through the amount of carbon generated by residents in their travel for work, school and leisure.

The report, "A sustainable community? Life at Derwenthorpe 2012–2015", surveys early resident experiences to examine the extent to which a sustainable community is developing, and compares their responses with those of other York residents who completed the survey.

It says: "Derwenthorpe respondents had a slightly higher mean footprint per person than other York residents. However this was not statistically significant. Shopping footprints were significantly higher for the Derwenthorpe sample than York, and power footprints were significantly lower than for other York respondents."

The report says Derwenthorpe aimed to go beyond the provision of energy efficient homes to also provide incentives for lifestyle change to reduce environmental impact, particularly in the use of transport, but the evidence suggested it was difficult to change households’ travel patterns.

Only a third of respondents thought living there would reduce their transport costs, and few households had reduced their car use substantially, often because of work and family commitments.

"There was also relatively poor initial take-up of the on-site car club, although there were promising signs of some better take-up as resident numbers increased."

However, the report said some small changes were happening in travel patterns, with a number of households aspiring to reduce car use, a couple of households achieving it, and a few planning on reducing car ownership in the future. There had also been a good up-take up of cycle vouchers, and some evidence of more leisure cycling.

Owen Daggett, sustainability manager at the foundation's sister organisation, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, said the carbon footprint of houses in Derwenthorpe was 55 per cent lower than the UK average, due to high levels of insulation and the use of a low-carbon heating system, but the high carbon footprint caused by travelling for work, school and leisure could make it very difficult for people who lived outside city centres to keep emissions low.

"We’ve set up a car club and made the development bike-friendly to help residents lower their transport carbon footprint, but to make a long-term dent in emissions from transport we need wider local and national public transport initiatives," he said.

“Seventy nine per cent of residents say that living in Derwenthorpe will help them live a greener lifestyle. In order for us to assess whether that perception becomes reality, we will be repeating the survey in 18 months. In the meantime, we will continue to work with residents to support them with their ambitions to adopt sustainable lifestyles.”