The UK strives to meet its sustainable property development targets has to aspire to the ambitious goal of becoming a Net Zero nation by 2050. The property development sector has had to review its practices and adapt significantly to become more energy efficient as a major contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint. In this article, we will examine how the property development sector has changed over the last decade, how it can increase sustainability, and where it fits in with the nation’s Net Zero goals.
sustainable property development in the uk - the numbers
Recent figures showed that in the second quarter of 2021, only 2% of new homes met the highest energy efficiency standards (An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A). However, the transition to developing more energy-efficient buildings is certainly making progress, with 46% of homes in England achieving an EPC rating of C or above, compared to 14% back in 2010.
Ultimately, this shows there is plenty more to be done but developers need continued assistance and incentives to raise industry standards and ensure these figures continue to grow at a rate that coincides with the government’s Net Zero ambitions.
Other nations are also making major moves to help boost the efficiency of their buildings, with Germany pledging €6bn to fund subsidies and incentives to push forward its building sector.
Meanwhile, in France, buildings account for 28% of the country’s carbon emissions, and to tackle this, the government has made amendments to the French equivalent of EPCs, making them more environmentally focused. As a result, over 40% of French homes will see a change to their energy efficiency band.
Improving the sustainability of both new and existing buildings is clearly high on the agenda of governments across the continent, but how can this be achieved?
Increasing Sustainability In The Property Development Sector?
The UK’s construction industry accounts for around 40% of the nation’s overall carbon footprint, making the sector a priority for decarbonisation. In order to achieve a significant reduction, we have outlined four key considerations that could transform the industry.
A Four-Point Strategy On How The Property Development Sector Can Become More Sustainable.
1.added value for the customer
Now more than ever, as the impact of the current energy crisis is affecting the finances of homeowners across the UK and Europe, people are exploring how they can reduce their energy usage and annual utility bills. Future homeowners will no doubt expect high levels of energy efficiency in their new home, and studies show that many would be willing to pay more for a sustainable home, especially as protecting the environment remains a priority for many younger generations.
This presents an opportunity to property developers that want to go beyond minimum standards and build homes that have added long-term value. On-site renewable energy such as rooftop solar installations, low-carbon heating systems, water waste reduction technology, thermal insulation, Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR), and other innovations can significantly reduce energy consumption, offering a fantastic return on investment for buyers – thus sustainable property development will create a more marketable product for developers.
In a 2021 report by Savills, it was estimated that decarbonising the UK Housing Association sector alone would cost between £35bn to £58bn, highlighting the magnitude of the financial commitment required by the government and organisations involved. This large disparity between the two figures depends on the required standards imposed by the government and is a clear indicator of the uncertainty within the sector right now.
However, business plans have already been outlined that may account for the bulk of these costs, while schemes such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and the Renewable Heating Incentive initiative can hopefully kick-start a revolution within the industry – resulting in new homes being built with high energy efficiency standards.
It is likely more and more funding schemes will be launched in the coming years to help drive change and help establish strict sustainability standards within the construction and property development sector.
3.more transparency in terms of data
For organisations such as local authorities, forming any sort of decarbonisation plan for sustainable housing becomes almost impossible without access to current and reliable data. Without this data and information, determining potential costs and accessing available funding is difficult and time-consuming. Therefore, systems and processes need to evolve to provide clarity on details such as building types, the number of houses that already have an EPC rating above C, and which properties need improvements.
To make this happen, government legislation needs to change for more mandatory reporting and disclosure to create a workable database.
4.Enforcing The Importance Of Sustainable Buildings To The General Public
Of course, all the above is vital, but it could count for little if homeowners do not understand the benefits and the importance of improved energy efficiency within buildings.
Older generations have displayed some reluctance in implementing energy-saving technology, feeling unimpressed by the short-term benefits and put off by the additional costs involved. This is why greater efforts need to be made to engage and educate all generations on what these changes can mean from both a personal finance perspective and an environmental one.
Fortunately, climate change and the significance of reducing carbon emissions is a key talking point across all media channels, and the energy crisis and the consequent spiralling of costs is an opportune time to force home the issue to reduce the financial strain for many households.
Future buyers should expect their new home to meet the highest energy efficiency standards – this is key to enforcing change.
Sustainable Property Development - The Way Forward
There is a lot to feel optimistic about in creating a more sustainable property development sector, and the most important thing is that property developers understand the benefits and the government creates a clear path for them.
Legislation and funding channels need to make it easy for developers to construct buildings that have an EPC rating of A, minimising expenditure for the developer, thus making energy-efficient homes affordable for the consumer.
The UK has set a target to become Net-Zero by 2050
Building construction and development accounts for around 40% of UK carbon emissions.
Only 2% of UK homes meet the highest energy efficiency standards.
46% of homes in England have an EPC rating of C or above, a rise of 32% since 2010.
Potential buyers of new homes must be made aware of the added value of energy-efficient properties.
The government must continue to provide new funding to help support sustainable property development and construction.
Data collection and visibility must significantly improve to develop an effective plan.
More public engagement is required to define the need for increased sustainability.
For the latest information regarding the property development finance sector and construction articles and posts, please refer back to this blog for an impartial overview of any changes and progress within the industry.