Read the me­ter — with plea­sure

Pi­o­neer­ing low-car­bon new homes are now be­ing built in Lon­don for as lit­tle as £263,995, re­ports David Spit­tles

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - New Homes -

THE on­set of win­ter and the prospect of high en­ergy bills con­cen­trate not only the minds of house­hold­ers but those of house­builders, too. De­mand for low- en­ergy homes be­comes stronger, with buy­ers pre­pared to pay a premium for com­fort, con­ve­nience, a greener life­style and long-term sav­ings.

In­surer Di­rect Line says Lon­don house­holds waste £2.23 bil­lion a year on in­ef­fi­cient heat­ing sys­tems and un­think­ing use of en­ergy. Prop­erty tends to be more pol­lut­ing than cars, with en­ergy used to heat, light and run our homes ac­count­ing for about 30 per cent of all UK car­bon emis­sions.

While new homes are six times more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient on av­er­age than older ones, many fail on the green front de­spite the strong call for eco-ef­fi­ciency. A study by prop­erty ad­viser CBRE shows eight in 10 buy­ers are will­ing to pay more for a top-qual­ity, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly home. Those in the 20-35 age bracket are the most en­thu­si­as­tic about green de­sign, while stylish, high­func­tion­ing eco-homes can com­mand a premium of up to 38 per cent.

Rel­a­tively few buy­ers get ex­cited by the ba­nal tech­ni­cal­i­ties of biomass boil­ers and ground-source heat pumps, but they all want a well-de­signed, good­value-for-money home.

Ar­guably, if houses are to be in­no­va­tive in the 21st cen­tury, they should look gen­uinely mod­ern, not retro. Mock-Tu­dor semis with wind tur­bines of­ten look ridicu­lous. De­vel­op­ers who are com­mit­ted to green de­sign lean to­wards con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient fac­tory pro­duc­tion. Cur­rently, the most en­vi­ron­men­tally ad­vanced homes in Europe are those built to the Ger­man “Pas­sivhaus” con­struc­tion stan­dard.

GREEN ELE­PHANT

An en­tire street of green Fu­ture­homes with rel­a­tively af­ford­able price tags has been built in Zone 1 as part of the jumbo Ele­phant & Castle re­gen­er­a­tion. Bor­der­ing a con­ser­va­tion area, the 15 houses re­in­state an orig­i­nal Vic­to­rian terrace de­stroyed dur­ing the Blitz and later built over with coun­cil flats.

Though the houses have clas­sic-look­ing brick façades and bay win­dows, they break with con­ven­tion by us­ing a low- en­ergy con­struc­tion tech­nique that means they hardly need heat­ing and con­sume 49 per cent less wa­ter than the av­er­age Lon­don home.

Triple-glazed, with an ad­vanced air tight­ness that elim­i­nates draughts, there is also a fil­tra­tion sys­tem that re­moves dust, pol­lens and smoke. Aided by sun­screen shut­ters, in sum­mer the houses are cool.

Pas­sivhaus stan­dards al­low for en­ergy sav­ings of up to 90 per cent com­pared with a typ­i­cal home. Own­ers can check re­duced bills through a smart en­er­gy­mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem.

Rang­ing up to 1,433sq ft, the houses are set over three lev­els and in­cor­po­rate a small pa­tio gar­den plus a roof terrace, though in­ter­nally they could have been more ar­chi­tec­turally dar­ing. Prices for Fu­ture­homes are priced from £1,495,000. Call 020 3675 9955.

The 15 houses are wo­ven into the wider es­tate of more than 3,000 homes. Res­i­dents have ac­cess to com­mu­nal rooftop “grow” gar­dens as well as a new two-acre park and un­der­ground park­ing. A show­piece en­ergy hub, or power plant, de­liv­ers net ze­ro­car­bon heat and hot wa­ter to homes, and dou­bles as a com­mu­nity café and chil­dren’s nurs­ery.

GREEN SPOTS

Go­ing green is not just about in­stalling low-en­ergy ap­pli­ances and us­ing the lat­est build­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Stricter plan­ning reg­u­la­tions mean de­vel­op­ers have to think more cre­atively about how hous­ing fits into the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment, pro­motes ecol­ogy and in­te­grates with pub­lic trans­port. They are al­ready be­ing re­quired to set aside land for al­lot­ments and pro­vide charg­ing points for elec­tric cars.

Kid­brooke Vil­lage near Black­heath cov­ers 276 acres, with new homes sprin­kled around a new park and na­ture re­serve. The up­graded lo­cal sta­tion of­fers a 15-minute com­mute to Lon­don Bridge. Hand­some apart­ment blocks and en­ergy- ef­fi­cient “ur­ban houses” that re­duce util­ity bills by a quar­ter and wa­ter us­age by 30 per cent over­look this green ex­panse. The apart­ments cost from £450,000 and houses from £915,000. Call Berke­ley Homes on 020 8108 1868.

Hack­bridge, in Sut­ton bor­ough, was rel­a­tively un­known un­til the ar­rival of BedZed a decade ago. This pi­o­neer­ing, zero-car­bon hous­ing project was short­listed for the pres­ti­gious Stir­ling Prize for ar­chi­tec­ture, trig­ger­ing more ecode­vel­op­ments that the lo­cal coun­cil says are turn­ing the area into the “UK’s first sus­tain­able sub­urb, one of the green­est places in the coun­try to live”.

New Mill Quar­ter, a for­mer in­dus­trial es­tate, is the big­gest de­vel­op­ment yet — 750 homes mo­ments from the train sta­tion and with its own dis­trict heat­ing sys­tem.

The stand­out ar­chi­tec­tural as­pect is green walls of ur­ban veg­e­ta­tion that help to reg­u­late air tem­per­a­ture, com­bat pol­lu­tion, ab­sorb rain­wa­ter and in­crease bio­di­ver­sity. Apart­ment blocks will have com­mu­nity roof gar­dens. Prices from £263,995. Call David Wil­son Homes on 0844 777 0034.

In Kingston, River Walk is a scheme of wa­ter­front apart­ments with a pi­o­neer­ing heat­ing sys­tem that extracts 13 mil­lion litres of wa­ter a day from the Thames and reuses it for hot wa­ter and un­der­floor heat­ing. above left, flats at New Mill Quar­ter, a scheme featuring liv­ing walls and a dis­trict heat­ing sys­tem in Hack­bridge, Sut­ton

From £450,000: eco-homes at Kid­brooke Vil­lage, near Black­heath, cut en­ergy bills by a quar­ter and wa­ter us­age by nearly a third

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