5 Ways to Make Your Property Developments Carbon Neutral
In April this year, the government announced radical new plans to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. This will require changes in all aspects of our lives, from transportation and housing to what we eat.
The property sector has a big part to play in helping the government meet its target. The UK Green Building Council has found that 10% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions are directly associated with the construction industry. In the future, homes will need to be better insulated and powered by low-carbon heating and renewable electricity.
Consumers are demanding more eco-friendly homes too. According to research by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), making energy-saving improvements to a home could increase its value by up to 38% in some regions.
So, how can you reduce carbon emissions on your next property development, or even better, make it a carbon-neutral project?
1. Use Renewable Energy Sources
Using renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, air heating systems, biomass and heat pumps can significantly reduce carbon emissions both during construction and once the home is built and lived in.
Installing solar panels and mini wind turbines on new builds will make your properties more energy efficient. The added bonus for buyers is that their energy bills will be lower, and they could even make money, for example, by selling any surplus energy generated through solar panels back to the national grid via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.
2. Include Green Spaces in Building Designs
Trees and plants help to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. By planting green roofs, communal gardens, herb patches and living walls, developers can offset tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. Covering roofs and other areas of a building in greenery also improve its insulation, meaning that less energy is lost.
3. Use Sustainable Materials
Using sustainable materials wherever possible is one of the most effective ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a property development. Approximately half of all CO2 emissions in the construction industry are from cement production. Switching to low-carbon cement can dramatically reduce the negative impact of new buildings on the environment.
4. Invest in Effective Insulation
Designing buildings with effective insulation is key to creating energy-efficient homes that have minimal impact on the environment. A well-insulated home traps heat and stays warmer for longer, requiring less energy to maintain temperate living space. Green roofs and insulating cavity walls with recycled materials are eco-friendly ways to boost the energy efficiency of your next development. Double-glazing windows and doors with high-quality materials will also enhance the effectiveness of a property’s insulation.
5. Invest in Carbon Offsetting Projects
Your priority should be to use sustainable materials and processes when building and pack new homes with as many eco-features as possible. Where it is impossible to deliver a carbon-neutral development, investing in a carbon offsetting project is one way to restore the balance.
There are different types of projects — some remove carbon from the atmosphere and others avoid or reduce carbon emissions. Business owners can purchase voluntary carbon credits to offset unavoidable emissions and reduce their carbon footprint.
“We’re seeing more landlords taking this issue seriously – some are completely selling up parts of their portfolios in order to reinvest capital into more carbon-neutral objectives”, comments Ruban Selvanayagam of Property Solvers.
The Business Benefits of Making Your Property Developments “Greener”
- Meet Rising Consumer Demand — currently, the number of buyers who will put sustainability at the top of their house-buying agenda may be relatively small but rapidly growing. Get ahead of the competition by building a name for your business as an ethical, green developer that delivers high-quality eco-homes to ensure that you retain a healthy share of the market as demand for this type of property grows.
- Give Your Customers More Choice — there is no one-size-fits-all home. Every buyer has their own idea of a “dream home”, and your customers will have individual needs and preferences. By offering them more options to choose from, they will have a better customer experience, which will help build your brand reputation and increase referrals. Some customers will only consider a house with eco-features, others will be sold on high-end finishes and some may prioritise options that help make moving faster and easier, such as part exchange homes. Adding green developments to your portfolio gives people another reason to buy from you.
- Achieve Compliance with Government Regulations — Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK is legally bound to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Legislation surrounding sustainable working practices in construction is still relatively new and developing, but more is sure to emerge in the coming years. Adopting low-carbon emission building methods now will put you in a strong position to achieve compliance with any new regulations that come into force. Developers must also comply with target CO2 emission rates (TER) which stipulate a minimum standard for the energy performance of a building.
- Increase Sales — eco-friendly features have been found to add significant value to a property, suggesting a burgeoning demand for green homes. By offering buyers what they want, you can sell more houses and command a higher price tag.
- Do Your Bit for the Planet — regulations and profit aside, it is our collective responsibility as a society to take care of our planet so that future generations can enjoy it as we have. If every property developer switched to low or zero-carbon construction methods, the impact on the environment would be huge.
Before long, green, low or zero-carbon housing will be the only acceptable property developments both under the law and with consumers. Start making changes now to stay ahead of the competition and capture the attention of eager eco-buyers.