Comment: The case for investing in eco-properties

Comment: The case for investing in eco-properties

Investing in sustainable properties is no longer just a practice reserved for ‘philanthropic' investment. The business situation for sustainability is becoming an expanding success throughout the global building market, and the most forward-thinking investors are finding ways to capitalise on it. Lauren Consiglio reports.

There will always be a need for houses, and many of these potential homeowners are now looking to add ‘green housing' to their property requirements - not only to reduce their carbon footprint, but additionally to reduce their living costs in the long run.

This is good news for investors looking for a robust way to gain a return on investment. With the market share for green property expanding at this exponential rate, there's a gap in the global building industry to meet this unfulfilled demand and charge a higher value in turn, for both the monetary and non-monetary benefits it can bring to its buyers.

Many potential homeowners are now looking to add 'green housing' to their property requirements - not only to reduce their carbon footprint, but additionally to reduce their living costs in the long run."

Sustainable design experts Rajapack recently published a piece that offers insight into different investments in eco-building and what this may mean for our future. Below is a summary of what it reveals, and you can read their full report on how the built landscape is transforming here.

Inclusive living
A massive attitude shift for millennial homeowners, according to craft and design writer Katie Treggiden, will be a push for inclusive living: "I believe there will be a shift in focus away from skyward gestures of ego, towards a more inclusive practice that finds a lasting solutions for the one in 200 people who are currently homeless or living in inadequate homes and for the 46% of 25-24-year-olds currently unable to get onto the housing ladder." Kate went on to say that, potential buyers will be looking to solve problems with solutions that are "only needed by some but create a better world for all of us." She suggests that already in Norway, America and Japan, this approach to design is taking hold.

Material innovation
Material innovation is massively influenced by sustainability in the current climate, and this is set to continue. Kate suggests that we can already see it in buildings that are being erected today, such as fast-growing, mouldable and entirely compostable, fungal mycelium. This is essentially the vegetative part of a fungus, which Kate states "is a really exciting material for its use in cladding, temporary structures, and insulation."

As homeowners continue their quest to reduce their carbon footprint and do their part for the planet - Green & Blu's bee bricks are another invention that could sway a home buyer towards choosing a sustainable option. Kate tells us, "They provide habitats for solitary bees - currently in decline due to loss of habitat and yet responsible for a third of what we eat due to their pollination activities."

New uses for old materials

With time comes expertise and we are now able to revisit older materials through more experienced eyes. Though cardboard has been trialled for its "low cost, flexibility, strength, sustainability and recyclability" in the past, we are now finding more innovative ways to make it work. Kate explains that most recently, a Dutch collective called Fiction Factory have been "creating and building everything from furniture to houses, creating cardboard ‘Wikkelhouses' made from 24 layers of corrugated cardboard, which is glued together and then wrapped up in foil." She goes on to explain that with the increasing need for sustainable, flexible and temporary dwellings, "cardboard will become an increasingly viable option as a sustainability material."

Saving our space
It's not just the exterior of a building that can be sustainable, but it's inner workings too. Interior designer Tiffany Grant Riley agrees that today's home buyers care less about their singular wants, and more about that of the collective world's: "With an uncertain environmental future ahead, the way we live in terms of our environmental impact and also how continuing climate changes affect our day to day lives will undoubtedly force us to change the way we build." She goes on to talk about The Living Unit installation at London Design Festival, in which structural engineers OFIS Arhitekti and architects AKT II explored "the future of mini living". This included pods with enough room for a kitchen, bathroom, bed and seating for two with a vertical ladder, posing the question "How much space does a person really need to live?"

The case for sustainable properties is strengthening every day - no longer just for the sustainability factor - but for the financial benefits that this investment can bring for both the global building market and home buyers. According to a survey by the Guardian, "more than two-thirds of millennials "buy as many eco-friendly products as they can". It only seems natural, then, that this attitude is already expanding into the properties they seek to own, as well as their approach to living in them.   

Lauren Consiglio is a freelance writer who has an interest in sustainability investments. She is based in London and writes for a number of green living and sustainability-focused blogs.

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