Statistics indicate that building construction and development make up approximately 40% of the UK's carbon footprint, causing the industry to strive toward decarbonisation. And you can play your role as a real estate developer to invest in sustainable practices. Admittedly, sustainability has become a buzzword. However, it's one thing to know and another to fully understand. Property development sustainability aims to promote the ecological balance of the environment long-term. For this reason, developers focus on projects without depleting the earth's resources or harming the environment.
Indeed, making your properties greener can distinguish your brand from your competitors while drawing potential homebuyers to your business. And since your clients can choose their new homes, you stand a chance of increasing sales. Likewise, you can maintain compliance with the country's regulations, preventing your business from facing lawsuits. Sustainable property development can be achieved with the right strategies. Here are a few you can consider for the best results.
1. Make a plan for biodiversity net gain
The desire for sustainable development prompted the government to establish biodiversity net gain (BNG), which is part of the Environment Act. Indeed, BNG aims to correct the biodiversity decline caused by development. The Act requires all development plans to deliver and maintain an obligatory 10% of biodiversity net gain for at least 30 years. This means you should ensure that your development proposals leave your site's biodiversity in a better state if you desire to practice sustainability. Fortunately, you can achieve this by creating a BNG plan to reduce how much impact your development project would have on the local environment.
For starters, you can work with a professional ecologist to conduct environmental impact assessments and site surveys for a more informed decision. As a tip, engage them much earlier to ascertain your project's feasibility and familiarise yourself with the new requirements. You'll also find it helpful to determine if your site has enough BNG or if you'd have to acquire more land to compensate for the law. Although entering a conservation covenant with a conservation charity is prudent, you must tread cautiously to avoid indefinite and demanding requirements.
2. Invest in solar energy
Although several renewable energy sources are available, solar energy is more popular for good reasons. Studies indicate that 70% of the population find solar energy desirable, influencing future home-buying trends. This is because solar energy translates to lower energy bills and low maintenance costs, although it may seem expensive initially. Therefore, you are likelier to attract top clients and establish business credibility if you invest in this energy source. Moreover, you'll play your part to ensure the country reaches its 2030 sustainable development goals, including the government's plan to have homes with 75-80% lower carbon dioxide emissions. Also, you don't have to stress about where to install solar panels; you can put them on rooftops or unused vacant land, so keep this in mind.
However, you don't want uncertified construction professionals to install your solar panels. Instead, work with MCS-certified solar installers, as they can safely install and maintain these panels without incurring damages. You also want to ensure they are part of the REAL Assurance Scheme. If you insist on using your construction crew, invest in training and certification to achieve the desired outcome. Since solar energy depends on the sun, proper solar panel positioning is essential. Let your panels face south, exposing them to the sun for longer periods. According to Standford University, a 34-degree tilt angle produces the best result, so feel free to consider this. Additionally, invest in quality roofs to support your panels.
3. Prioritise communal green spaces
Another sustainable idea worth considering is communal green spaces. While some people may classify these areas as a waste of space, nothing is further from the truth. Indeed, green spaces in urban areas can be beneficial for many reasons. They can help people relax after a stressful day while allowing children and pets to play. Likewise, people are encouraged to spend more time outdoors when dedicated spaces support their goals. Moreover, more greenery can improve air quality, particularly in areas prone to air pollution. On a larger scale, green spaces create wildlife habitats and protect biodiversity while reducing heat island effects and surface runoff. Therefore, you can include these green spaces in your next development project.
You can create gardens and urban parks to make room for leisure and recreational activities. To get started, choose a location that's easily accessible, safe, and unique. You also want to consider potential homeowners' demographic to determine what your park should include. For instance, playgrounds, shades, picnic tables and chairs, etc., can work well if your development targets families with children. Apart from communal green spaces, you can also incorporate greenery in various ways. For instance, you can consider investing in min-forests, green roofing, community woodlands, wetlands, street trees, etc.
4. Make room for alternative transport options
Indeed, transportation is essential for comfortable living. However, prolonged use of fossil fuel vehicles may not be best if you seek sustainability. Not only does it increase carbon footprint, but exhaust fumes can pollute the air. These fumes contain hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene and nitrogen dioxide, which cause greenhouse effects and harm people's health. To prevent these gases from polluting your new development, you'll find it helpful to make room for greener transport alternatives.
For instance, you can create more cycling spaces to encourage people to ride their bikes more and ensure their safety. You can also consider investing in light tramway systems, so keep this in mind. Of course, banning cars from the area won't be feasible. However, you can reduce the rate at which people drive by promoting car club membership for your new homeowners. This way, they can rent cars for errands they can't undertake by foot or cycling. While at it, ensure that your development project doesn't affect existing road networks. As a tip, consider the transport statement for planning application to ensure that your project meets the requirements.
5. Leverage eco-friendly building materials and accessories
You can leverage eco-friendly building materials and accessories. For instance, you can swap conventional paint for low to zero-VOC paint options. Consequently, ensure that you use LED lights to reduce energy waste and help homeowners save more on utility bills. Stone, bamboo, adobe brick, earth bags, etc., are all eco-friendly materials, so feel free to consider them.
Author - chris
Author, Editor, Creator of this website.