East Anglia: ‘Greenest’ homes not yet commercially sustainable, conference is told

One of Greenright Homes' projects, featuring solar thermal panels

One of Greenright Homes' projects, featuring solar thermal panels - Credit: Archant

ENVIRONMENTALLY sustainable homes are not yet commercially sustainable, a developer has told delegates at a regional conference on the low carbon economy.

Simon Bennett of Suffolk-based Greenright Homes was speaking at the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Green Economy Conference, held at Wherstead Park, near Ipswich.

Mr Bennett, who has spent most of his career in the oil industry with BP, has now combined his interests in the vernacular architecture of Suffolk and Norfolk and the reduction of carbon emissions.

Describing himself as 'a serial self-builder', he said schemes undertaken by Greenright so far were all located in rural areas away from the gas grid and had typically reduced carbon emissions to about one third of those achieved by using oil.

However, installations such as heat pumps and thermal and photovoltaic solar panels did not come cheap and, while they could make buildings self-sufficient in electricity, or better, they typically added 7% to 10% to build costs.

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'At present, there is no premium for that in the market whatsoever,' he said. 'Possibly in London there is, but not in East Anglia.'

Mr Bennett said a low carbon economy would eventually be driven by behavioural change but issues which needed to be addressed in the meantime included attitudes in the planning process and poor understanding of low carbon technology in the building supply chain which needed to be tackled in the skills agenda.

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In the short term, however, he warned that, with large developers sitting on expensive landbanks and property prices flat, there was a danger that pressure would be brought for building standards to be lowered rather than raised.

Also among the speakers during the afternoon session of the conference was Alan Knight, director of sustainability for Business in the Community, who set the issue of climate change in the context of global population growth.

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