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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

The eco-friendly revolution – how is the property industry going green?

We’ve previously reported on everything from sustainable living developments to eco-villages, and recently covered a major trade body’s call for the government to prioritise greener housing at the upcoming Budget.

But property’s focus on green issues shows no signs of slowing down, as our round-up below shows. 

LendInvest launches green finance initiative

One of the UK’s leading non-bank property lenders has launched its first green finance initiative to enable its borrowers to have the most positive environmental impact.

The change applies to all LendInvest Bridge-to-Let borrowers when they improve the EPC rating of a property during the term of their loan, with borrowers able to save up to £600. The final amount saved depends on the extent to which they improve the EPC rating.

Industry standards – introduced as part of the MEES legislation in April 2018 – require landlords to achieve a minimum EPC rating of E on all privately rented homes. LendInvest says its green finance initiative reflects its ambitions to promote higher than average EPC ratings on the rental properties it backs. 

Rod Lockhart, chief executive officer at LendInvest, said: “We’re excited to be among the very first lenders in the sector to be thinking about how we can encourage our borrowers to put the environment first. Every time we originate a loan, we’re helping our borrowers to have a positive impact on the environment and the communities in which they work."

He added: “As a responsible business that’s serious about its environmental and social obligations, we are excited to apply our instinct for innovation into green product offers like this.”

Audley Group commits to green energy

A retirement village provider has announced its commitment to green energy, with the entire Audley Group portfolio of villages – including the 19 Audley Villages and Mayfield Watford – set to be powered by green energy by November 2021.

Audley Cooper’s Hill in Surrey, opened in late 2019, is Audley’s very first green energy village and all newly completed villages will operate on green energy. Villages already in operation are set to transfer over to green energy sources in the next two years.

The commitment spans all communal areas at the villages, including the restaurant, Audley Club and Mayfield Club, as well as the spa and gym. The vast majority of property owners buy their gas and electricity through Audley’s provider, too, which means more than 90% of owner properties will be powered by green energy by the winter of 2021.

Currently, energy and electricity use from UK properties makes up 20% of Britain’s greenhouse emissions and these need to reduce by at least a quarter by 2030 to meet the Committee on Climate Change’s targets.

As well as reducing its carbon output, Audley is also working on several initiatives to move towards zero carbon status, including evaluating sustainable building practices and the integration of low to zero carbon technologies in both existing and new villages.

Kevin Shaw, managing director at Audley Group, said: “We are the very first retirement village provider to implement green energy across our full portfolio of villages and we are part of just a handful of housebuilders putting zero carbon initiatives at the heart of our projects. Our latest announcement reaffirms our commitment to reducing emissions from the housing sector and is just another step on the journey to zero carbon status.”

Schoolchildren hold the key to future greener homes

A membership organisation for landowners, rural businesses and rural professionals has said Scottish schoolchildren should be taught how their actions now can impact on climate change and the kind of homes they will live in in the future.

Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) last week called for more education for schoolkids on the important role housing plays in our lives, in response to the Scottish Government consultation: ‘Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles’.

Marcelina Hamilton, policy adviser at SLE, commented: “Schoolchildren hold the key to Scotland’s future housing being good for our health and wellbeing, environmentally-friendly, accessible for people with disabilities and available in rural areas as well as towns and cities."

She added: “If we educate children now about how their actions and choices could impact on the types of homes they live in in the future, this could go some way to helping the Scottish Government meet their housing vision. In 20 years’ time, today’s schoolchildren will be tenants and homeowners. We want to see rural areas with good population numbers, a vibrant property and rental market, with environmentally-friendly homes which are accessible and provide good health and wellbeing.

You can read SLE’s full consultation response here.

PropTech Connect forum discusses energy efficiency

Round Hill Ventures’ latest event – chaired again by Tzvete Doncheva – brought together some of Europe’s property, technology and government leaders to discuss net zero carbon and energy-efficient buildings.

Transparency in measuring energy performance, strong public sector action and industry collaboration emerged as core themes.

“The involvement of the real estate C-levels in the quest to sustainability is major and does make a difference,” said Clémentine Hardy, CSM director at Deepki, a data management firm which helps real estate owners monitor and reduce their carbon footprint.

The panel were unanimous in agreeing that it’s much easier to design new energy-efficient buildings from scratch than to retrofit existing ones.

“Retrofit is a huge issue that we are still not addressing at all,” Alex Gilbert, senior strategy manager for Commercial Energy at TfL, said. “All new buildings should clearly have a lot tougher legislation and they should be exceptionally carbon positive.”

The question of investment is key, the panel said. “Reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment will not come for free. Between the government, landlords, and occupiers it is totally unclear who will pay for it in the end,” Marcus Eilers, head of residential asset management at Round Hill Capital, said.

Sarah Ratcliffe, chief executive officer at Better Buildings Partnership, added: “If we can get the technology in our existing buildings which is already there to work, that would be a major step forward. This is as much about people as it is about PropTech.”

Pollution-free properties secure 57% more rental income

Lastly, research by lettings management platform Howsy has found that areas where CO2 emissions are at their lowest are home to much higher average rental costs compared to those with higher levels of CO2. 

Howsy examined the average cost of renting across 65 of the largest towns and cities based on population size, as well as the CO2 emissions per capita in each location, and what impact this had on the cost of renting.  

The research found that when looking at areas based on the CO2 emissions per capita, there is a clear trend whereby areas home to a lower level cost more when it comes to the average rent, compared to those with much higher levels.  

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