Concern for the environment has never been more pressing. And the construction industry is among the least environmentally-friendly parts of the modern economy. Certain practices, like extracting raw materials, imposes a significant environmental cost. The 2018 Global Status Report by the UN indicated that the pace of change is insufficient, and that, in order to transition to a sustainable future, a revolutionary series of changes will be needed. But what shape, exactly, will those changes take?
What is Eco-friendly construction?
Eco-friendly construction prioritizes sustainable development. Everything is designed from the ground upwards to minimize carbon emissions and limit waste. An Eco-building might be equipped with modern photovoltaic panels, an efficient condensing boiler, and plenty of insulation. On the other hand, constructing a building so that all of the rooms receive plenty of sunlight might help to achieve a similar end.
An Eco-friendly project might be a single one-off building or an entire estate. Perhaps in the future, entire cities might be constructed according to these principles.
How many Eco-House are there in the UK?
It is difficult to precisely quantify the number of Eco-homes in the UK, because there’s no fixed definition of what constitutes an Eco-home. A better metric comes in the form of building regulations, which have imposed steadily more stringent insulation requirements on new builds with each passing year.
Of course, there are also developments that go way beyond their legal requirements. Take, for example, BedZED – a mixed-use community in Hack-bridge, London, comprising 100 homes. It was constructed at the turn of the century with the goal of being carbon neutral. The site is equipped with 777 square meters of solar panels, rainwater collectors, and south-facing houses with triple-glazing and plenty of thermal insulation. A review of the facility concluded that the space-heating and hot-water requirements of the building were 88% and 57% less than the average, respectively.
The project was lead by the Peabody Trustand was completed thanks to the local authority’s decision to sell the land at below the market value. Since then, however, the price of land in London has soared, and until this trend is reversed, it is unlikely that projects of this sort will be repeated.
One solution may come in the form of reconfigured Eco-homes, sold to forward-thinking consumers with an eye on the future. This practice would confer risk, however. This might be mitigated through construction insurers like Arthur J. Gallagher, but also the creation of the right regulatory environment, to help the eco-home become ‘mainstream’ and practicable.
What other factors influence Eco-friendliness?
A building is more than just the sum of its pollution-causing parts. Developers can also lessen their environmental impact by considering the location of new projects. If commuters have to travel further to reach their place of work, then over time they’ll have a considerable environmental impact. In this way, an eco-home built which is built right out in the countryside, forcing the homeowner to travel long distances by car, might actually be more damaging than a more traditional inner-city home.