In the last decade, the word ‘sustainable’ has started to crop up more and more in our everyday lives. From fishing and farming to forestry and clothes manufacturing – the world is moving to adopt more sustainable processes. But what does ‘sustainable’ mean? And what is its relevance in the UK property industry?
Sustainability – a definition.
In its most basic form, for something to be ‘sustainable’, it needs to be created in such a way that does not compromise the longevity of its existence, or without compromising the ability of future generations to benefit from whatever it is being created and to be able to keep developing it for the years ahead.
What is sustainable development?
Sustainable development refers to buildings and properties designed in such a way that means their day-to-day operation results in lower energy emissions, and therefore, they cause less damage to their immediate environment.
In any building, heating water, cooling rooms, and cooking food all produce huge amounts of energy. While most buildings release this energy back into the environment through chimneys and vents, sustainable developments are designed to repurpose this energy back into the building – creating a cyclical pattern of energy consumption and, in some cases, in passive emissions output.
Truly sustainable development, however, goes further than how the building is designed. Whilst most of the property industry is now aware of the impact building design can have on the environment, few are yet to recognise that the fixtures and fittings that go into a building also play a key role in ensuring minimal environmental impact. For example, if a building is kitted out with low-quality furniture and appliances, those items will need replacing more often – resulting in more landfill and subsequently more harm to the environment.
The increasing environmental importance of sustainable development.
The UK property market has seen a surge in demand from both owner-occupiers and investors looking for sustainable developments coming to market over the last 10 years. Properties that are not utilising sustainable technologies to reduce their emissions are now worth less financially, as greener properties continue to rise in value.
With our cities becoming more populated, and our urban areas continuing to grow, it is clear that there is an increased appetite for city-centre living. Developers, therefore, have an obligation to ensure that they not only tick the sustainability box from a build perspective but that residents of these new homes have access to open spaces. Roof gardens, terraces, living walls and shared gardens are all features that have become more popular in the UK, and the prominence of these features will continue to be apparent as new developments come to market.
With advancements in technology and an increasing ability to run our lives via smartphones, it has become easier than ever to keep our homes energy efficient. Having the capability to switch lights on and off at the touch of a button and an app to setting the heating and boiling the kettle – all from our phones, has led to huge reductions in energy emissions and operational running costs. Unfortunately, developers who haven’t adopted these practices are damaging the environment and creating less profitable assets for owners and investors, as the rental and resale market are looking for sustainable features.
The legislation changes that will impact the property market.
In June 2019, the UK parliament passed legislation that required the government to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 100% by 2050. To reduce carbon emissions by 100%, the UK will have to counteract the number of emissions produced per year, with the same number of processes to clean our air, such as planting forests and utilising eco-friendly processes to generate energy for the country.
As the 2050 deadline nears, many new rules and regulations are beginning to impact the four highest-emitting sectors: transportation, energy supply, business, and residential property. With over 40% of emissions in the UK coming from households, new regulations and policies regarding a property’s carbon footprint are likely to be implemented over the next decade to meet the targeted 100% reduction by 2050. As property is a well-established medium to long term investment, this timeline of events means anyone buying property as a means to make money needs to look into the sustainability of a development before parting with their money.
How does sustainability impact my investment?
When investing in property, it is crucial to consider the long-term environmental impact your property will have. As regulations change over time, so will your investment’s value, performance, and risk over time.
Investing in a property that has been built using sustainable construction practices, whilst being finished to a high standard with top brand fixtures and fittings, will ensure that your investment is only impacted positively – with continued demand for your property, resulting in healthy yields and long-term capital growth.
How do I know if a development has been built with sustainability in mind?
Working out if a development or property has been built with sustainability in mind is not as hard as you might think. Below we have included a checklist of the most important things to look out for when it comes to identifying the sustainability of a property:
– Is the developer reputable? Do they have evidence of sustainable development?
– Does the property come finished to a high standard?
– Do the fixtures come with extended guarantees and warranties?
– Are the furniture and appliances from top brand manufacturers?
– Does the developer use technology within the day-to-day operation of the building?
– Is the property well maintained?
Beech Holdings is committed to sustainable development.
For over 20 years, Beech Holdings has been committed to developing sustainable buildings that utilise pioneering sustainable technologies in the market to reduce emissions on our developments while also reducing costs for our investors and tenants.
The renovation of our flagship coliving development Westpoint in 2016, was pioneering within the industry at the time – as we were one of the first residential developers to treat the building as a whole when it came to energy output, rather than see every apartment in isolation.
By adopting features such as one large water tank for the whole building to provide our tenants with hot water, without having hundreds of water tanks heating up en masse; and Air Source heat pumps that recycle the warm air from the water tank room and recirculate this throughout the building, keeping our tenants warm without contributing to greenhouse gases – we were able to save on space, giving our residents more room in their apartments to live, and have a positive impact on the environment.
Recently Westpoint was recognised for its contributions to impact and sustainability at the first-ever Coliving awards this year, with the head judge commenting: “Westpoint clearly embeds elements of environmental sustainability into the building design and operations. Westpoint has advanced building-wide heat recovery and water management systems, high-quality fixtures and fittings, considers biodiversity net gain…”
Find out more about investing in sustainable developments.
To get more information about sustainable development and our commitment to only develop properties that work with the planet and not against it, speak to one of our expert property consultants today.