Greening up the UK housing market is a vital piece of the UK’s net zero puzzle. However, in order to rapidly deliver green and carbon zero homes, a number of obstacles will need to be overcome.
According to new research from law firm Shakespeare Martineau, more than three quarters (77%) of people in the housing market are likely to choose a green home for their next purchase.
However, buyers want to be able to make the most of the benefits of green homes without paying a premium. This is because those being targeted with more eco-friendly new-builds are often stepping on to the housing ladder for the first time or buying their second property. As such, they do not plan to live in the property for the 10-plus years required to see a return on their investment.
Cost is also holding back the delivery of more green homes. Buyer incentives, such as reduced council tax, better Help to Buy ISA returns, lower stamp duty and improved lending rates could prove effective in encouraging buyers to purchase green homes. With additional financial support from government, developers could also explore alternative construction methods that have a lesser impact on the overall build cost, as well as options such as solar panels and air-source pumps.
In order to meet customer needs for green homes, there is also a need to strike a balance between using traditional construction methods and leveraging modern methods of construction (MMC). While MMC can reduce the amount of embodied carbon in properties, and provide greater energy efficiency, it is important to bear in mind that supply and material shortages are increasing manufacturing costs. The cost of petrol is also pushing up delivery prices.
Energy infrastructure across the UK must also be upgraded, and the future design of housing developments needs to accommodate community energy systems. This will enable energy to be recycled from renewable sources. Currently, driving forward community energy projects is difficult for a number of reasons, from costs to legislation.
Green homes will be key to making the government’s net zero ambitions a reality. By drawing on the input of the industry’s largest property players, improved government financial and legislative support, and taking steps to educate consumers and the supply chain alike, the UK can transform its housing landscape for the good of the planet.
Neil Gosling is partner and head of residential development at Shakespeare Martineau