Environmentally Friendly Self Build
May 11, 2012
How serious are we about the environment?
The general comment is we must look after the planet, and therefore be as ‘green’ as possible. In the recent London Mayoral election the Green Party came third, ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Before the credit crunch, green issues were at the top of the development agenda, these days it seems to be further down the list. The government’s Green Deal is trying to move it back up the agenda once more – let’s see.
Sustainability used to be associated with environmental issues (just look at the language relating to the Olympic Park), but now it seems more about the financial sustainability of a business.
So rather than looking at the big property developments, how do self builds approach this? Grant Shapps (Housing Minister) has recently flagged this group up as the largest housebuilders in the country – they should have a voice. New properties have to meet certain standards, especially with new carbon targets set to come into force in 2016.
As often with looking at new efficiencies, we need to look to Germany. Many will remember seeing the Huf Haus on Grand Designs back in 2004. These are essentially houses that are made in a factory and assembled on-site in a matter of days. There are others too; the best I have come across is Baufritz (again, featured on Grand Designs in 2008). These houses are made of timber.
Baufritz have taken environmental considerations to a whole new level. Not only do their houses use about one sixth of the energy used in a traditional house but they only use organic products – for example their paints. It appears to me a country full of Baufritz houses would go a long way to reduce our environmental issues!
We need to support our planners to engage with this approach, be allowed to do their job, and encourage more of these type of properties. I fear too often, local residents do not realise the benefit for the longer term good.
The complaint of most self build exponents is the power that is given to local opposition, we need to let local planners do the job they are employed to do, and approve the building of the future environmentally friendly housing stock.