Frugal innovation in housebuilding


Housebuilders face a number of challenges in getting a new development off the ground; securing the right land at the right price, obtaining planning permission, making sure planning requirements are met, and – crucially – putting in place a strong supply chain to design and complete the build.

Just about the only thing that isn’t presenting a challenge at the moment is actually selling the houses. With interest rates set to remain low this year, cuts to stamp duties and growing demand from first time buyers, the market looks buoyant – for the foreseeable future, at least.

In such a favourable market, the incentive to pioneer renewable technologies in the new build sector is low; the only thing driving this incentive is the sustainability targets set by the government and local authorities. So why should these technologies be higher on housebuilders’ agenda?

As well as needing to meet nationwide building regulations per house, housebuilders are given sustainability targets by their local planning authority, which specify how much energy should come from renewables per development site.

These targets vary significantly depending on region; London, the South East, the Cotswolds and Scotland are currently leading the way, with as much as 20% of site-wide energy on all new build developments required to come from renewables.

But with the very real prospect of government targets to build carbon-free homes within the next few years, coupled with a growing societal focus on more sustainable living and the volatile global energy market, regional energy targets will continue to increase, and it’s happening already.

In the future, we’re also likely to see a reduction in our reliance on the power stations, with homeowners able to produce greater amounts of clean, locally-sourced energy that’s better matched to their unique usage needs and even selling surplus energy to their neighbours in the same street, village or town.

This concept may seem like a distant pipe dream at the moment, but as people become more conscious of the available resources within their home created by solar energy, a sharing economy will become much more commonplace.

Check out our next blog post for more!

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