* Regulations insist on eco-friendly construction to meet the Government’s target for all new homes to be carbon-neutral by 2016
*Planned green homes include: Kidbrooke Village, near Blackheath; the first code six family development at Ecogrove, East London; Bentley Priory in Stanmore and apartments with rooftop allotments at Vermilion, Docklands
For decades, “green” housing existed only on the margins of the property market, dismissed by the public as faddish and unreliable — the fixation of overzealous eco-architects. But attitudes have changed and eco-homes are entering the mainstream. Not only are buyers more responsive to saving the planet, they are also keen on cutting their energy bills.
Soaring fuel costs are forcing homebuyers to think and act green, and many are searching for new-build homes with lower running costs. New builds, on average, are six times more energy-efficient than older homes.
Buyers do not want to compromise on style: they want healthy green, good-value homes, designed for comfort and the smooth running of modern life. Developers no longer have the choice. Regulations insist on eco-friendly construction to meet the Government’s target for all new homes to be carbon-neutral by 2016: those who fail to rise to the challenge risk being refused planning permission.
Going green means more than installing double glazing or putting in a combination boiler. A raft of planning and building regulations is beginning to bite. Developers have to meet eco-ratings based on everything from how close a home is to public transport to how thermally efficient it is, how well it tackles recycling and whether it uses sustainable materials. In future, developers may be forced to set aside land for allotments and build green walls that are habitats for birds and insects.
In other words, green housing is not just about technology — it is about how it fits into the local environment. At Kidbrooke Village near Blackheath, homes are sprinkled around a new park and nature reserve, landscaped to store heavy rainfall and slowly discharge it into local rivers.
With more people opting to grow their own, urban allotments are increasingly in demand. Newham has a 10-year waiting list — only about 60 plots change hands every year — so the London borough is encouraging allotments at new developments. Vermilion, in Docklands, has 35 rooftop allotments for residents. Prices from £350,000. Call 020 7758 8481.
So, eco-homes have come of age. As well as government-backed new-build initiatives, there is a website advertising green homes for sale (greenmoves.co.uk ); a campaign urging owners and builders to be greener wwf.org.uk/sustainablehomes, and details of how older properties can be made more energy efficient est.org.uk.