It is an uncomfortable fact that our homes tend to be far more polluting to the atmosphere than our petrol-run cars. And, just as older cars tend to be more polluting than the newest models, so older homes tend to be less energy-efficient than new builds. Typically, achievable energy savings for a modern home amount to £35,000 over the lifetime of a 25-year mortgage.
Today’s new homes must comply with eco ratings based on everything from how close the property is to public transport, how thermally efficient they are, how well they handle recycling and whether builders use sustainable materials in their construction.
In future, developers may even be forced to set aside land for allotments and build planted “green walls” to create habitats for birds and insects.
From £375,000: waterfront apartments at River Walk in Kingston. Call 020 3538 2462
In other words, green housing is not just about technology but about how the housing fits into the local environment and promotes ecology — as with River Walk, a scheme of waterfront apartments in Kingston that boasts a pioneering heating system that extracts heat from 13 million litres of water a day from the Thames and uses it for hot water and underfloor heating. Prices from £375,000. Call Redrow on 020 3538 2462.
From £562,500: homes at Keeper's Court have triple-glazed skylights and sliding doors to provide a seamless link to the garden
Environ, one of the first British builders to embrace eco housing, researched North American and Scandinavian design and technology and now uses a timber-frame building system called Super E, which acts as an air-tight “envelope”.
This results in greatly reduced fuel bills and increased comfort as the system provides fresh-filtered, pre-heated air while extracting stale air and moisture, a boon for allergy sufferers.
There is a touch of New England about the architecture of Keeper’s Court, a scheme of eight detached houses in West Malling, Kent. The company’s starting point was to design stylish homes with flexible, contemporary interiors that maximise light and space and encourage relaxed living. Each home has a double-height entrance hall, triple-glazed skylights and cathedral ceilings, while sliding doors allow living areas to be opened up and provide a seamless link to the garden.
£5.5 million: Brickfields is an 8,000sq ft home near the centre of Radlett in Hertfordshire. Call 020 7722 3131
Brickfields, in the prosperous north London suburb of Radlett, is one of Britain’s very few “Code Five” houses.
Since April 2008, all new developments, big and small, have been covered by a “code of sustainability”, which grades properties on a scale of one to six using criteria such as water-saving features, on-site power generation and solar technology. Level six is the best rating, but has rarely been achieved.
Set behind a bridleway and surrounded by green belt, yet only minutes from the town centre, it fuses modern and traditional elements, with an abundance of glass, oak and textured tessellated brickwork.
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Despite the house running to an enormous 8,000 sq ft, annual energy costs are estimated to be less than £1,000.
“There don’t have to be any compromises: green architecture has raced ahead in recent years and the new levels of luxury in sustainable design are endless,” says director Anita Kohn. The house is on the market for £5.5 million. Call 020 7722 3131.
Wooden wonder: Potton timber-frame houses are for DIY builders. Call 01787 676400.
Doing a selfie
Self-build is an option for owners who want to live in a hand-tailored, energy-efficient home. Potton, which supplies timberframe structures to self-builders with a plot of land, has unveiled a barn-style house that is 25 per cent more energy efficient than a standard-built property and costs just £700 a year to run.
The company holds open days and seminars at its show centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. Its new 2,780sq ft Wickhambrook barn has four bedrooms and is a Code Four design. Other classic and contemporary designs are available and cost from £100 a sq ft. Visit potton.co.uk or call 01787 676400.
"We love it": Jordi Blanes and Jubilee Easo in their new Greenhaus home in Brook Green
Warm feeling: heating bill will be less than £100
After several years of living with their young daughters in a constrained two-bedroom home in Notting Hill, Jordi Blanes and Jubilee Easo decided to upsize to a “Greenhaus” in Brook Green, W6.
Indeed, the homes require hardly any heating at all. Even in mid- winter, the large living room can be warmed up with the equivalent of just 10 tea lights, according to developer Octavia Living, a not-for- profit housing association.
Despite the advanced technology, the homes look fairly conventional, with a brick exterior and solar-panelled pitched roofs. Internal spaces are thoughtfully designed, with accommodation extending into the attic and living rooms opening on to compact patio gardens.
“We all love it,” says Jordi, 39, an associate professor at the London School of Economics, and Jubilee, 38, a partner in a City law firm.
“We didn’t think we would find this sort of space in a new-build house. There is so much light, even when the sky is grey, and it’s satisfying to know that our family carbon footprint is dramatically less than it would otherwise be.”
The family moved in two months ago and have yet to get a heating bill but it is forecast to be less than £100 a year. Part of a mixed-tenure — shared ownership and rent — scheme, the houses were priced from £750,000 to £1 million and are now all sold.
Octavia Living is releasing similar properties at other west London locations, including in sought-after Merchant Square at Paddington Basin, and in Fitzrovia. Call 020 8345 5601.