Climate change has been in the spotlight recently following the COP26 summit. It’s clear that action needs to be taken, and quickly.
When it comes to the impacts of property, the figures are startling: buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU. In the UK, it is even higher at 59% and 23% respectively.
For business professionals relocating for work, how can you ensure your new home is as eco-friendly as possible?
Christopher Nye from Property Guides suggests some sustainable ways to invest in a property.
Maximise the energy efficiency of your home
Whether you’re buying a new-build or older property, energy efficiency should be your top priority. An energy-efficient house will not only produce fewer carbon emissions, but it should save you some money too. In some cases, you may have no running costs at all!
When viewing homes, ask questions around how well the property utilises solar energy and natural light, if it is well insulated, what type of heating system it uses and whether it is built from natural materials, such as salvaged or reclaimed wood.
Also consider whether the property has the potential to become more eco-friendly. Could you add solar panels? Does the loft need insulating? Could you replace single-glazed windows with non-UPVC double-glazed ones? Is there a gas boiler that you could swap for an eco-friendlier heat pump? Some European governments are even offering incentives and grants towards installing sustainable appliances or upgrading an existing property. And, in certain countries, such as Spain, low carbon properties benefit from lower rates of council tax.
As well as the obvious environmental benefits of low-carbon homes, owners should also enjoy long-term capital gains. With so much focus on reducing our global carbon footprint, eco-friendly properties will likely be worth more in the future than high carbon ones.
Don’t be caught out by ‘greenwashing’
‘Greenwashing’ is a marketing technique that often portrays a property or development as more environmentally friendly than it actually is. When viewing an eco-home, don’t take the developer’s or estate agent’s word for it – ask to see some proof.
In the UK, developers can opt to build homes that align with the national Code for Sustainable Homes. This Code measures the sustainability of a property against nine categories: energy and CO2 emissions, water, materials, surface water run-off, waste, pollution, health and wellbeing, management and ecology. A home can achieve a sustainability rating from one to six stars depending on how well it has achieved the Code standards. To find out the rating for the home you are considering, ask to see the sustainability certificate.
Similarly, sustainability rating systems are being introduced across the EU. These include BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), so do consider how a property ranks against these systems.
Buy in an area with easy access to public transport
Try and choose your location with sustainability in mind. Minimise your daily carbon footprint by buying a property with easy access to public transport. Alternatively, if you need to drive, look to buy within proximity to an electric car charging point, or consider installing one at your property.
Rent out your property when it is unoccupied
If you’re relocating abroad for work but still have a property back in your home country, consider renting out your second home when it is unoccupied.
With buildings being a major contributor to carbon emissions, minimising the need for new housing is crucial. And, depending on where your property is located, you could potentially make a nice rental income too.
Renting out an unoccupied property is also a great security measure. Many thieves are opportunists and choose the easiest looking target; nothing is more tempting than an obviously vacant home!
For more wide-ranging advice and practical assistance with identifying the right property when relocating, contact Klippa today.