According to new research carried out in Great Britain, around half of all renters and new home buyers that are under 40 years of age are interested in environmentally-responsible homes. This research has shown that more people are now interested in sustainability than ever before.

Eurocell published the results of the research. The survey included a thousand of 25-40-year-olds, half renters and half homeowners. Of all participants, 52 per cent stated that it is either very or somewhat important that their home is made using eco-friendly materials. Furthermore, 49 per cent stated that they are more likely to rent or buy an eco-friendly house, while 22 per cent claimed that the use of sustainable or recycled building products is an important sustainability feature.

The participants also stated that other sustainability features that appeal to them are:

  • More natural light
  • Having an outdoor space
  • Feeling secure and safe
  • Double or triple glazing
  • Energy efficient design, solar panels

The survey has also shown that the natural light is essential, with 80 per cent of all participants marked this feature as very or somewhat important. Also, 48 per cent of respondents said that they would be willing to pay extra for a house with more natural light and 57 per cent claimed that they would be more interested in buying or renting a home with more natural light.

Natural lighting has become essential for buyers and renters, which means that the house must have proper windows. Here’s what participants responded when asked what features they would like their new windows to have:

  • To increase the amount of natural light
  • To be more energy efficient
  • To reduce noise
  • To be able to shade the sunlight
  • To be made out of sustainable materials

Research has shown that having more natural light in a living space has many benefits – it improves happiness, health, productivity and overall well-being. It is also known that it helps reduce seasonal affective disorder.

The survey then focused on how much are the buyers or renters ready to pay for sustainability features. Of all participants, some 30 per cent would pay 10 per cent more, 28 per cent would be willing to pay 20 per cent more, and just 22 per cent would pay up to 30 per cent more.

The participants then expressed their opinions on design trends and once again eco-friendly homes were on top of the list. Also, a design that is inspired by nature has become very popular. Here are the answers about the design of homes:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Floor to ceiling windows
  • Minimalist house
  • Open plan living
  • Fashionable interior
  • Homes with reduced noise pollution
  • Smart home
  • Biophilic designs

What does the industry think about the research?

After Eurocell carried out the research, they called construction experts from BDP, the High Street Group, Hawkins Brown and Simpson Haugh to a round table to discuss the findings. A few experts stated that they believe that the developers are incorporating all the sustainability features voluntarily and not because of the legislation.

Stephen Marshall, head of housing and architect director at BDP said that a part of local authority clients like to be the first when it comes to pushing standards related to sustainability. Marshall finds that these clients are doing the right thing, especially when you take into account that they go above the minimum requirements. Furthermore, he believes that it might take some time for the rest of the industry to catch up, but he thinks that clients will start to ask why private developers are not offering the same as the council.

All attendees agree that the wants of the consumers are going to move forward the sustainable building movement. The topic of natural light saw the round table participants going back to the essential equation – design vs cost vs regulation. James Roberts, the project architect at Simpson Haugh, said that everyone wants more natural light, but it is up to the balance in design to help them achieve this.

Roberts stated that the amount of glass used in the design could be impacted by local legislation. However, the eco-friendly design incorporates many different aspects, depending on the goals and the building systems.

Francesca Roberts, a Hawkins Brown architect, says that the windows should be carefully placed, to find the sweet spot, which should be defined by analysis and testing. She claims that the placement of the windows shouldn’t be left to chance, which could happen if a standard house type determines it.

Another interesting topic at the round table was the possibility of making more environmentally friendly homes which wouldn’t have a higher price. All participants agreed that the overall cost is significant, since everyone wants to make a profit.

Roberts found that the clients understand the concept of smart meters and double glazing, but neglect the importance of sustainability of other materials used. Furthermore, he believes that potential clients are more likely to invest in sustainable design features, which could drive the understanding of the public what sustainability actually is.

High Street Group’s development manager, Jon Rukin said that moving design forward requires a leap of faith from the developers’ perspective. Rukin also stated that it takes time to receive feedback about any new design because the development takes time. However, low rise developments can deliver that feedback faster, because they are built and released progressively.

The cost-saving often reduces the outdoor space, claims Stephen Marshall. He finds that the design of landscapes, like gardens and public areas, can have a significant impact on the overall look of the building. Marshall also believes that the layout and design shouldn’t cost more if done correctly and at the right time.

According to research, 53 per cent of participants would be interested in having technology included in the building of their home. Francesca Roberts finds that this could present a challenge since technology is continuously evolving. Regardless, she noted that most of the technology is wireless, so there’s no need to include it into the building process.

James Roberts stated that it is better to invest in a quality architectural design than in the latest technology.