Good practices deserve rewards

... but developers aren't interested.

Two years ago the Building Research Establishment (BRE) created the Environmental Standard Award to encourage and reward developers who were building environmentally friendly housing. The scheme was launched with high hopes and expectations. By 1997 the BRE expected to be assessing 8,000 to 10,000 houses a year on such issues as energy efficiency, using wood from renewable sources, and minimising damage to the site. Yet the number of houses assessed so far runs into hundreds rather than thousands and most of these are being built by housing associations.

Dr Josephine Prior, the BRE's manager for special projects, is at a loss to explain house builders' lack of interest. "The standard was developed to reward people who already had good practices. We hoped to encourage builders to fly the flag for what they were already doing. But we have been unable to persuade the marketing people to take it on board.

"Builders say to me that buyers are interested in location and what they can see inside the houses. But I maintain that the presence of the standard must be an extra benefit."

House-builders' failure to participate in the BRE award does not mean that they are all indifferent to the environment. Taywood Homes, one of the house-builders' on the steering committee for the BRE scheme and an early award winner, no longer takes part, but maintains a commitment to green housing. Linden Homes' energy-saving measures consistently achieve an admirable Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating of at least 80 out of 100.

"Laing Homes regards itself as an environmentally-conscious house-builder," says its chief executive, Steve Lidgate. Recently Laing Homes South successfully transplanted a threatened 7ft-tall beech hedge from one site to another five miles away. At a development on an old joinery works in Earlsfield, south London, bricks, cobblestones, old timber and hard core were all reclaimed and recycled. "It sold very well. It pays to be green," says Rameen Firoozan, sales and marketing director.

Dr Jonathan Horner, an environmental science lecturer who bought a Laing house, was impressed by the developer's preservation of trees and other natural features, and the commitment to energy-saving. "My working life centres on the effect that environmental policy has on the world around us. Housing is an important aspect of all our lives, and I was keen to ensure that our new home would live up to the standards I feel we should all demand of the building industry."

But no Laing development has entered for the BRE Award stamp of approval. Mr Lidgate explains cautiously: "Although Laing Homes originally chose not to become fully involved, the company would be pleased to participate in any future discussions relating to the relaunch of the scheme."

The BRE standard has so far served housing association tenants best.

"We have tried to balance the environmental agenda with providing quality and affordable housing," says Martin Rowbottom, assistant director (development) of the Hastoe Housing Association, which has three BRE awards and another one pending.

As for the comparative failure of the BRE scheme in the private sector, Mr Rowbottom says, "It has not had a lot of publicity. The BRE's scheme for offices has been taken up by the industry as the benchmark, because the people who are going to use the block are closely involved in its development. House buyers aren't."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Sales Support - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Internal Sales Executive ...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Smart Meter Engineer - Gas and Electric - Dual Fuel

    £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the installa...

    Recruitment Genius: Programme Manager

    £30000 - £35500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum