THE FUTURE IS GREEN: UK ECO HOMES THAT COULD PROVIDE A BLUEPRINT FOR NET ZERO HOUSING
The future of Britain’s housing is net zero, or at least it will be by 2025 – according to the government’s Future Homes Standard published earlier this year. Its aim is that all new homes in the UK will be highly energy efficient, zero carbon ready and feature low carbon heating.
The built environment currently contributes to around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, according to the UK Green Building Council, making the heating of buildings a priority issue if the UK is to achieve its goal of net zero by 2050. Existing homes and businesses will also be subject to stricter requirements for replacements and repairs.
Reducing carbon emissions from properties has been at the forefront of the UK’s agenda of late, due in part to the recent G7 summit in early June and the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference UK (COP26) to be held in Glasgow later this year. Yet eco homes and sustainability in the housing industry are by no means new.
The UK is already home to a number of beautifully designed properties that are kind to the environment and energy efficient.
Global heating company Viessmann recently highlighted a number of eco homes across the UK, which could provide a blueprint for the future of UK housing, from a completely off-grid property in Scotland to a detached house in Essex. Each home showcases what is possible when homeowners are able to fully commit to creating a more sustainable, eco-friendly home.
That being said, many Brits wanting to invest in an eco-home may find the prospect something of a pipe dream.
However, as mortgage brokers, Scout Financial Services explains there are already a number of companies offering attractive financial products for prospective homeowners willing to go green.
Neil Weston, Principal at Scout Financial Services, explains: “There is a notable move by several lenders to promote the buying and modernising of property to be more eco-friendly, and these are reflected in the deals available for properties with a better EPC rating. We can see Nationwide offering a £500 cashback for properties with an EPC of 92 or above (this is on top of any other cashback on their mortgage product). NatWest is taking a similar approach, with £350 cashback (on max. 85% LTV mortgages) if you select a ‘Green Mortgage’ deal of either a 2-year discount or a 5-year fixed rate.
“Other lenders also have similar offerings with a reduced LTV, increased borrowing or an incentive cashback. These, while all helping a buyer of a newer, more efficient property, unfortunately won’t help/cover enough the costs of improvements for a less efficient property on the whole to incentivise the owner to make these improvements. They are certainly a good first step and show intent, but may not drive significant action.”
So, if you can secure that green mortgage what could your future home look like?
Twoflowers Croft – North West Scotland
Completely off grid and overlooking a loch in the north west of Scotland, Twoflowers Croft is perhaps one of the most sustainable eco homes in Britain. Measuring just 40msq, the property boasts a self-contained office space and is made from sustainable materials including larch timber and tin, which protects the exterior from the elements.
The interior is equally green in its choice of materials, heavily insulated with natural sheep’s wool and features a surprisingly spacious open plan layout and full height double glazed windows that take advantage of natural daylight for heating and lighting.
Twoflowers Croft’s green features also include compost toilets, two classic Jøtul wood burners and twelve 250kw solar panels on the south face of the home. These features ensure the home can remain totally off grid and guarantee this stunning home is 100% self-sufficient when it comes to heating and electricity.
The Studio – Hove, East Sussex
The Studio is an award-winning example of a net zero eco home here in the UK. The property, which has been built to consume only half the energy of the average UK home, makes use of a number of natural materials from zinc roofing and oak panel cladding to fully recycled kitchen work surfaces and even lime-based natural paints.
Aside from its green building materials, this eco home provides all its heating and electricity needs through the use of solar thermal panels, a wood chip biomass boiler and solar photovoltaic panels. The studio also boasts a rainwater harvesting system to provide water for the garden, as well as for the washing machine and toilets. It even features a sedum roof which encourages wildlife and provides further insulation.
Oakwood House – Gloucestershire
A timber-clad home overlooking Gloucester, from the outside, Oakwood House resembles a typically modern contemporary residence rather than a state-of-the-art eco home. However, Oakwood makes use of a number of revolutionary design features to save energy and reduce its carbon footprint.
Heavyweight concrete internal floors and walls have been utilised throughout the home which intelligently take advantage of natural daylight, for example. This keeps the home warm in winter and cool during the summer months, as well as exceptionally well lit.
However, it’s this building’s use of natural water that is so impressive. Each of this unique home’s spacious seven rooms are heated entirely from a ground source heat pump, while rainwater from the roof is collected into a buried 10,000-litre tank and used for irrigation in the sustainable garden, washing appliances and toilet flushes.