In a nation struggling with its domestic energy bills, it is up to developers to design homes that save the residents money

Jon Kirkpatrick

More than five million households in Britain are currently living in fuel poverty[1] and more than 80% of the population are thought to be concerned about being able to afford their energy bills throughout the winter.

Incredibly, the UK is currently second only to Estonia among European countries ranked by the number of people struggling to pay their bills. It is no surprise, therefore, that improving the energy efficiency of our homes, which has proven cost saving benefits for residents, is fast rising to the top of the list of priorities for residential developers.

What can the builders of Britain’s homes of the future do to minimise the environmental footprint of our properties while simultaneously alleviating the financial pressure?

It is estimated that the average annual fuel bill in Britain is currently nearly £1,500. Compare that to a passivhaus, where heating bills can be reduced by around 90%. These impressive cost savings are part of the reason why at Lend Lease we are working to maximise the energy efficiency of the 700 new homes we currently have under construction in central London.

It is estimated that the average annual fuel bill in Britain is currently nearly £1,500. Compare that to a passivhaus, where heating bills can be reduced by around 90%

At The International Quarter in Stratford - where this year we launched our latest residential development, Glasshouse Gardens - we will be building new homes that are 30-40% more energy efficient than current regulations require. All of the buildings will have green roofs which, in addition to absorbing rainwater, will also act as insulators. Consequently, less energy will be required to heat the buildings. This in turn means lower energy bills for residents.

By creating homes where sustainability is not just a “nice to have” but a fundamental part of the entire scheme, developers have the opportunity to save large amounts of money for future residents.

An additional attraction for residents of new-build homes such as these is that occupiers can find themselves with significantly lower fuel bills without having to alter their living habits in any major way. In this way, developers can lend a large helping hand to those who strive to live in a more environmentally friendly manner by giving them the tools they need to do so. This, in part, is the beauty of new-build developments. Residents no longer need to check for gaps around doors and windows where heat could escape, or fill their lofts with bulky insulation, or purchase low-energy light bulbs.

Improvements in energy efficiency are continually being made by residential developers in the UK as new regulations and technologies are introduced. Even in the two years since we delivered the London 2012 athletes village – the country’s first development of scale to achieve Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes – we at Lend Lease have already raised the bar in terms of energy efficiency.

These improvements to energy efficiency, brought about by sustainable building innovations, will continue to be made as we seek to help bring down energy costs wherever we can.

[1] A household is said to be in fuel poverty if they have required fuel costs that are above average and, if they were to spend that amount they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.


Jon Kirkpatrick is head of sustainability at Lend Lease EMEA