Green Housing: What does the Future Look Like?

Environmental concerns are informing every part of our economy – and the construction sector has a vital role to play in shifting things in a greener direction. The government is set to apply pressure on the industry via a range of incentives – but some homeowners have already decided to take the leap and see how far the environmental envelope can be pushed. Kitchen refurbishments, conservatories and entire new builds are all now being planned and executed with greenness in mind.

In late 2019, the Future Homes Standard was unveiled. The objective of this set of standards is to help limit domestic carbon emissions while limiting household bills at the same time. The standard will enforce a few notable changes, including the elimination of gas boilers in new builds by 2025, and the introduction of alternative measures like heat-pumps and solar panels.

More recently, it was announced that an urban design consultancy, Urbed, had been asked to put together a national set of guidelines that would help councils pen their own local codes. A planning white paper, set out in 2020, will empower these guidelines, and potentially give certain developments planning permission by default. The white paper has drawn criticism from industry voices, including the Town and Country Planning Association, who said: “Where the white paper is specific, for example, on the energy performance of buildings, it is deeply disappointing that there is no specific date by which zero-carbon homes will be delivered.”

Eco Homes in the UK

So what might the future look like? We might take inspiration from some of the high-performing eco-homes already constructed across the UK.

The East Village in London was officially created as a place for competitors to stay during the 2012 Olympics. It’s since been converted into flats, powered by an onsite biomass power station, and flanked by parkland. The model has proven successful, and developers plan to expand on it.

The TY Eco Village in Pembrokeshire benefits from photovoltaic solar panels. It’s equipped with a 15kw roof system and a 13.8KwH Tesla Powerwall battery, which makes it ideal for those who need EV charging (as British motorists surely will, in the not-too-distant future).

The Green Homes Grant

More recently, the government has announced the Green Homes Grant, which subsidises homeowners and residential landlords wishing to make their properties that little bit greener. Vouchers can cover two-thirds of the cost of an improvement, up to a maximum value of £5,000. If someone in the house receives benefits, however, then the voucher can cover the entirety of the cost, and be up to £10,000. You’ll need to find an appropriate installer, and to navigate the government’s search tool. If you’ve already made the attempt without any luck, then you might try again – improvements have been made to the system since the scheme first launched.