The UK government has set ambitious targets both for reducing carbon emissions and for building more houses. The construction industry isn’t known for its concern over the environment, however new methods of construction and increased pressure to make buildings more energy efficient have lead to a rise in the number of green homes in the UK. Not only this but more of us than ever before are trying to be more eco-friendly, cut down on how much energy our homes use and how much we waste and throw away. So are UK homes getting greener?
In 2008, the government stated that it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Though it is uncertain whether the UK will manage to meet these ambitious targets in time, the UK has greatly reduced its overall emissions, which are down 43% compared to the levels in 1990. A significant 12% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from domestic buildings and the rise in eco-friendly living has been met with a rise in eco-friendly buildings.
Builders are starting to use more eco-friendly materials like earthbags, where bags of earth are stacked together to create a house, and repurposed homes such as renovated shipping containers are also becoming more popular. Eco-friendly builds are often more affordable too, with reused and recycled materials saving on costs, for example, loft insulation made out of recycled paper. New buildings are also having to adhere to more stringent environmental standards. Energy efficiency targets are being met through a range of measures including more insulation, low-energy lighting, recycled materials and solar panels. It is also estimated that green initiatives can reduce a building’s running costs by a third, which will mean that the building’s environmental impact over time will be lower too.
Property developers are also trying to create more eco-friendly homes, like West Point Studios in Manchester by RW Invest. This high-end development features low-carbon technology including 100% energy efficient LED lighting, solar panels, an air source heat pump and a heat recovery ventilation system. Developments like these are in increasing demand, with environmentally conscious tenants looking for accommodation that suits their needs.
A recent AXA survey looked at 3000 UK adults and how eco-friendly their households really were. Their research found that older people were actually more aware of some issues, for example, 68% of over 55s were aware of the recycling rules in their area, and that millennials were two thirds more likely to ignore advice on making their homes eco-friendly.
Area also played a role in people’s environmental mindset, Chelmsford residents were 96% likely to turn the heating down and 95% would hang dry clothes or turn off lights when they left the room. In Cardiff, 85% of people will walk short journeys rather than using their cars and 79% avoid using non-recyclable materials. It also seems like self-employed people are extra conscious about the environment, with 47% making sure they turn the heating down when it isn’t needed compared to 30% of employed people.