According to the Energy Saving Trust, residential properties are responsible for around 22% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and our heating systems and poorly-insulated homes are guilty of producing about three-quarters of this.
Although as a nation we’re still some way off from fixing this problem, the picture is far from bleak. Eco-friendly homes have gone from being somewhat niche just a decade or so ago to much more mainstream nowadays.
Eco-friendly starts at home
A recent report by Rated People showed that 57% of UK residents want to be eco-friendly and many of them are starting at home, with the site reporting a 41% increase in people asking about eco-friendly home improvements between 2019 and 2020.
So just what is meant by the term eco-friendly when it comes to a home or property?
There are plenty of terms that have become interchangeable as this market has grown. Green is still the catch-all for anything that mitigates the impact on the environment but ‘low carbon’, ‘carbon neutral’, ‘sustainable’, ‘renewable’ ‘low energy’, and ‘energy efficient’ are also used in this context. The ultimate of which is ‘zero carbon’ which is the approach adopted by leaders in the field, the Passivhaus Institute in Germany.
Eco self build
If you’re considering building your own home, or renovating, converting or extending an existing structure , you may be weighing up this ‘green’ route – and you’ll be in good company! Not only are there plenty of other self builders who can help you on the way, but the amount of suppliers, experts, and consultants (not to mention mortgage providers!) who operate in this field are also numerous.
There are many ways a self builder may decide to approach eco-friendly design. It might be that they want their finished home to be completely carbon neutral – not only to help the planet and reduce global warming, but to likely reduce bills in the long term too. Others may choose environmentally-friendly processes during the build as it is estimated 10% of global energy-related emissions come from materials and processes used in construction.
Suffolk Building Society’s self build mortgage borrowers
We spoke to a small panel (19 people) of our self build mortgage borrowers about their recent projects and how important it was for them to ensure their new homes included environmentally-friendly measures.
It’s worth remembering that an eco-friendly property does not necessarily need to be a new build. This does of course give the owner a clean slate to incorporate whatever measures they so choose, however it must not be forgotten that in the UK we have plenty of older housing stock which is also ripe for a green makeover too.
Of our 19 borrowers, 13 were starting a new build but others were renovating, converting, or extending an existing property.
For all these types, whether new build or not, if any borrowing is required it’s important to know the difference between a self build mortgage and a standard residential one. In a nutshell, a self build mortgage is required if a property is uninhabitable, or is left without a kitchen or bathroom for an extended period of time, and/or if structural alterations are being made that affect the stability of the building.
Self build eco choices
14 of the panel thought it was important to include green measures in their build. The most popular of which was for the heating/hot water, with 14 self builders including these measures.
The next most popular was adding in appliances that are energy efficient/A-rated. The Energy Savings Trust has a useful guide to choosing home appliances. For those who haven’t purchased an appliance for a while, it explains how the ratings scales have changed from formerly being rated A+++ to G, now rated A to G.
Using materials for the fabric of the building that are sourced responsibility was high on the agenda for 9 of the self build borrowers. One panellist was particularly chuffed with being able to recycle the bricks and source other unwanted building materials for free.
One person was building an entirely carbon neutral home.
We’re delighted to have helped some of our borrowers progress their self build dream, incorporating eco-friendly measures to make a difference to our planet.
Safeguarding the environment is a key priority for us. By being able to consider each and every mortgage application individually, we hope to help others approach their self build project in an environmentally-friendly way too.
Our series of self build and renovation blogs contain useful information for anyone wanting to know more about crafting their dream home.