Environmentally Friendly Solutions That Every Building Developer Should Know
As the 21st century progresses, both the government and UK homeowners have become increasingly concerned with having access to greener homes and housing developments. With climate change already causing catastrophic weather events across the country – and the globe – the importance of constructing environmentally-friendly buildings has never been so clear.
To that end, new legislation has been put in place to encourage developers to take their potential environmental impact seriously, and to offset any damage they do create. If you are a building developer and you want to use more eco-friendly practices in your construction, here are some green solutions that all building developers should be aware of.
Ensuring Biodiversity Net Gain
One practice that every developer is now legally obliged to implement is providing biodiversity net gain on any development they work on. This new concept is part of the Environment Act. It dictates that, not only must developers address any environmental damage they made during clearing and construction, but they must also enhance the local habitat and increase biodiversity by 10%.
To help make sure your development can meet the biodiversity net gain target, you can bring in a specialist ecological consultancy like Arbtech. Their experienced team will assist you with every stage of the development process – from design right through to construction. The expert advice they provide will give your planning application the best chance of being approved, and will help you to meet that all-important biodiversity net gain of 10%.
Using Sustainable Construction Materials
Homeowners may not realise it, but cement usage accounts for approximately a quarter of the construction industry’s ‘embodied carbon’. As a result, developers across the UK are increasingly turning toward more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials to construct their houses. These eco-materials include recycled products, including reused wood, cardboard packaging and plastics; renewable materials such as timber and hemp; and even newly developed carbon-negative aggregates.
Sourcing sustainable materials from suppliers that are dedicated to ecologically friendly innovation are one of the most effective tools developers can use to create greener sites. And, with new innovations in the pipeline all the time, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest releases so you can remain at the cutting-edge of green development.
Following The Environment Act Of 2021
With climate change prompting troubling events around the UK, such as wildfires, flash floods and drought, the government has set its sights on achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050. To reach this target, in 2021 the new Environment Act was passed, which champions sustainable development.
In accordance with this legislation, any decision related to development needs to include this goal of reducing emissions. Part of the Act includes the biodiversity net gain targets mentioned above, but the legislation also introduced Conservation Covenants – which are voluntary but legally binding – and strict laws on tree felling.
To give your future developments the best chance of making it from the initial design phase all the way through to completion, you should factor the Environment Act into every aspect of your planning.
On Green Roofs And Renewable Energy
To help any development you are working on to wow both local councils and potential buyers, it’s a good idea to give your new build homes a range of eco-friendly design features. For example, you can design houses that are partially powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar power and geothermal heat. Geothermal heat pumps have a wide range of benefits, particularly in comparison to the traditional boilers that homeowners are more familiar with. For one thing, they are far more energy-efficient – and, because they don’t use oil or gas, they are more environmentally friendly and safer. In fact, geothermal heat pumps are set to become the heating source of the future, as gas boilers are already being phased out and oil boilers will eventually go the same way.
Other renewable energy sources you can employ in the design of your new build properties include solar water heating systems and EV charging points, which will become more in demand once the ban on diesel-powered cars comes into effect in 2030.
Green roofs are another sustainable design feature you may wish to include in your properties. Although they have been an architectural feature for centuries, in the modern world, they are a new addition to new build construction, and they are sure to impress would-be buyers. Not sure what a green roof is? Essentially, it is made up of several different functional layers that are then topped with soil substrate, plants, and seeds. Sedum and wildflowers are particularly popular due to their hardy, low-maintenance qualities. Green roofs are an effective and eye-catching way to provide additional habitats for endangered birds and insects, which will help toward your biodiversity net gain.
Creating A Green Infrastructure On Your Developments
As well as the homes themselves, developers also need to focus on the eco qualities of the infrastructure that will be available, both on and around the proposed site. To create as environmentally friendly a development as possible – in line with the Environment Act – new homes should be built within easy reach of local transport links, such as buses and bicycle lanes. This is to try to cut down on the use of cars, thereby reducing pollution at the same time.
It’s also important for developers to create space for both walkers and cyclists to move easily around the development, as well as leaving room for other ‘green’ features such as playing fields, areas of woodland, and perhaps even allotments for residents.
Green infrastructure comes with a range of benefits – not only for the development, but also for its inhabitants and the local environment. These advantages include better temperature regulation – which could become a key concern as British summers get hotter and hotter – as well as sustainable drainage, reduced run-off, and improved well-being for residents of the site.
There’s no denying that sustainable development may require some significant adjustments for developers. However, with the right planning, materials, and suppliers (and expert advice), there’s no reason why you can’t create an appealing and environmentally friendly housing site that benefits everyone involved. And, above all, the planet.