From Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement, Active Building Centre
Our environment is rapidly changing and we can observe it in real time. Hotter, drier summers and cooler, wetter winters are an inevitable consequence of climate change. Finding a panacea will not be an easy task and the road to mitigating the ecological problems we face will be long and complex. We need to encourage both businesses and consumers to change fundamentals and adopt new, sustainable, clean approaches.
One sector which has a golden opportunity to change is the housebuilding sector. Currently, there is much talk in the industry about modern methods of construction, with modular and offsite starting to disrupt the market. The structure of the homes we live in is transforming, but what about the way the building itself operates?
Currently, one of the big ticket issues when we come to discuss sustainable housing, is energy consumption and the carbon emissions resulting from the buildings. For example, Policy Connect’s recent findings highlighted that unless we sincerely ween ourselves off gas-dependent heating solutions we’ll never reach our climate change goals. Equally, unless we encourage a mass adoption of Electric Vehicles (EV), we will still find ourselves struggling with the climate change conundrum come 2050.
The good news is that there is much innovative work going on across the UK to develop systems and solutions which will help minimise the impact of climate change and effectively improve the environment. One of these, with which I’m directly involved, is ‘Active Homes’.
In essence, the Active Home is a direct progression, or evolution from a focus on singular innovative technology solutions, to a systems-thinking approach to sustainable housing. These buildings effectively empower the homeowner or tenant through creating a structure which is energy self-sufficient, allowing for intuitive generation, storage and use. It’s a low carbon option which has the potential to significantly ease pressure on the national grid, adding resilience into the wider system by delivering more generation capacity – aggregated at scale. This is essential as our energy consumption rapidly increases and we move to non-fossil fuel generated electricity.
These Active Homes would have further benefits to society, addressing significant fuel poverty concerns, improving air quality through reduced emissions and also through encouraging the adoption of EVs as both modes of transport and additional drivers of energy storage and movement.
At the Active Building Centre, we are constantly working on new and innovative solutions which will define the energy efficient, self-sufficient homes of the future. Our approach is empirical and data-driven so we have been able to observe directly the very real possibilities for Active Homes.
The UK housebuilding sector has the capability and the capacity to be early adopters in this space, taking advantage of the coordinated model it offers to address climate and energy concerns within innovative commercial models; at the same time becoming pioneers in our drive to achieve our zero-carbon targets and a more sustainable society.