What is sustainable housing and should you invest in it?

Demand for eco-friendly homes has increased substantially in recent years, according to a survey from Legal and General. This could be due to an increased awareness that people have of the environment with the news, documentaries and articles having a focus on people’s carbon footprint. This means, that more and more buyers are considering sustainability and environmental impact when looking at properties, making properties which have sustainable features more desirable.

In the UK, properties are awarded EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ratings depending on their energy efficiency. They’re rated on a scale from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G being the least. That means that A properties are potentially the most desirable for some buyers.

As a result, an increasing amount of developers are now prioritising features like net zero emissions and renewable energy sources to appeal to this increasing demand for green buildings. Recent surveys show that over 72% of prospective buyers now view sustainability credentials as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when viewing property purchases. As a result, the UK’s green building market has expanded rapidly.

As well as implementing sustainable energy sources in new builds, developers are also using cutting-edge building techniques for these homes. Modular housing has been in the news a lot in recent years, with rapid-build factory-made homes mooted as a potential solution to housing shortages in both Ireland and the UK. Modular homes focus on reducing the cost of homes but other measures will increase costs but they have focusses in other areas. For instance, resilient building design is the practice of designing buildings that can withstand and quickly recover from various hazards, including weather events such as gale-force winds and floods. It involves the use of robust materials, advanced engineering techniques and intelligent design to create structures that can withstand damage to remain standing to keep occupants safe. You could also argue new builds have increased resilience to man-made events such as fires, with more homes being fitted with sprinkler systems and fire doors. 

It’s not just the concern for the environment which have caused these properties to have a boom in popularity, they can save the tenant money on bills. Energy-efficient homes tend to have features such as double or triple glazing which means that less heat is lost through the windows, resulting in a much smaller heating bill in the winter months. Solar panels are also a way people save on their energy bills in some cases as some schemes allow you to sell surplus energy generated back to the national grid. Buying a home with some of these features already installed will save you having to buy them later down the line. Also if you are renting the property, stricter legislation in the future could see you needing to install features like a heat-pumps to replace gas boilers, which you wouldn’t have to worry about if your property had one when you bought it. 

Homes built with more modern architecture and eco-friendly building materials are also more economically friendly to run than older properties. Building innovations and technological advancements mean that newly built homes are becoming more energy efficient than ever, resulting in running costs more than 50% cheaper than older properties. Modern construction makes use of plenty of energy-efficient materials and practices, with an increasing amount of new homes are being built with timber frames. Using timber frames has a lower carbon footprint than using traditional bricks and a wooden frame house is quicker to heat. Modern houses now also are a lot better insulated, reducing the amount of heat lost through walls and cavity walls. Older properties tend to have older boilers and heating systems which are less efficient than new models. This is also the case with lighting, new-builds will have predominantly LED lighting which uses 80% less power to produce the same amount of light as a halogen bulb. 

As well as more efficient and sustainable building materials used in the new homes being built, more properties are known as ‘smart homes’. This refers to a home which has systems in place which can be controlled from a device. For instance, many modern boilers or heating systems allow you to control the temperature of your home through an app on your phone or tablet. This is also the case for lighting, with some types of LED lighting allowing you to control the colours or turn the lights on in different rooms in your home. So, there is also a spike in new-builds being smart homes and these are also something buyers may look for when buying a home.

So, homes are becoming more energy-efficient, sustainable in the way they are built, safer and smarter in the ways we live in the property.


Picture of a blue sky with three pitched roofs in a line underneath it, all with solar panels cladding them. This is to demonstrate the energy-efficiency that is spoken about in this article about investing in sustainable property by Harbour Property Group.
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