“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all.” - Ban Ki Moon
Property has always been a popular investment choice, with real estate tending to offer some of the most reliable returns on the market. And many investors are now increasingly keen to see their money working for social and environmental good.
A global report on eco-property released in November 2018 ranked the UK 13th out of 20 countries surveyed for eco-building, noting that although the British are world leaders in terms of green building expertise, a lot of that expertise is currently deployed overseas. However, that is set to change over the next three years – it’s predicted that by 2021 around 40% of all new building schemes in the UK will be classified as ‘green’. As the country becomes more aware of its own environmental responsibilities, more and more architects and developers of both residential schemes and office blocks are focusing on lowering the carbon footprint of their projects, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making their buildings healthier places to live and work.
There are a number of techniques that can be used to accomplish these goals and to define a building as ‘green’ or ‘eco’.
- Energy efficiency. Eco-buildings are designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, both through the use of systems that minimise energy loss like underfloor heating and no-tank water heaters and through the inclusion of renewable energy systems such as solar panels.
- Low waste production. Many eco-buildings are modular, and their constituent parts made in facilities that use recycled materials and practice waste recycling. This means that waste is kept to an absolute minimum at every step of the production process and when the building is constructed on site.
- Healthy materials. Eco-buildings are constructed from materials with as low an environmental impact and as few harmful chemicals as possible, enhancing the health of those who live and work in them.
- Local materials. The distance that materials have travelled is a significant factor in a building’s carbon footprint. Eco-buildings use locally-produced materials as far as possible in order to reduce air and road miles and keep this footprint as small as possible.
- Preservation of the surrounding area. Developers and architects of eco-buildings take the specific characteristics of the local environment into consideration in order to minimise the building’s impact on wildlife and the water supply. Methods include native landscaping, which removes the need for additional water sources from outside the area.
- Water recycling. Eco-buildings use so-called ‘grey water’ from washing and baths in toilet cisterns and irrigation, reducing occupants’ bills and helping the environment.