Green houses: How housebuilders are taking steps to promote eco-friendly living
Climate change and the challenge of becoming more eco-friendly are major talking points in today’s news. With COP26 in full swing in Glasgow, we should all be playing our part to reduce our carbon footprint, when it comes to recycling, going electric and renewable or changing our diets to become more plant focused. This sort of activism has long “begun at home”, but many property developers now believe eco-friendly behaviours should start even before the keys to the home have been handed over. In the new green economy, the downstream environmental consequences are being considered not just for the end product itself and how it is lived in and enjoyed, but also for the work and resources that went into designing, building and selling it. With this shift some property developers are pioneering new eco-friendly practices which, in turn, are influencing marketing, messaging and media buying. Some of these are nothing more dramatic than adopting a more mindful approach to day-to-day working and communication, while others represent ambitious, avant-garde strategies that push the boundaries of the industry to become more sustainable. The problems inherent in promoting such thoughtful advances within media platforms, owned or paid, that themselves lack environmental credibility is increasingly influencing channel selection for many builders’ marketing activity.
One key change happening across the housing market is a move towards paperless working. Many housebuilders are scrapping printed brochures, instead encouraging interested parties to download or view via a tablet when visiting sales offices. The same approach has been taken with price lists, where QR codes are now being utilised. This is significantly reducing paper waste for developers where previously these documents were being given out to the majority of visitors to site. When paper is required, for activity such as direct mail and leafleters, at Space & Time we ensure we use suppliers who stock FSC accredited paper, printed using vegetable-based inks, and who purchase through schemes such as the Woodland Carbon Scheme.
Other housebuilders have taken a more consumer-focused approach to changing carbon habits: encouraging households to ‘go green’ by offering electric vehicle charging points as standard or even going one step further and including a free electric car or bicycle when buying a specific house type. This synergistic approach unites design and marketing in pursuit of a shared lower-carbon ambition. On the ground, such changes not only reduce environmental impact but also help to keep developments’ air cleaner and new neighbourhood quieter from noise pollution.
In addition to offering electric cars and bicycles, some housebuilders are rethinking how they design their house types, trialling ‘net zero carbon’ eco-houses on certain developments with the ultimate goal to become completely ‘net zero’ by the middle of the century. This goal will come sooner for housebuilders developing in London where the goal is the be carbon zero by 2030.
Orford Mews, a nine-home development in Walthamstow, East London is taking this even further with the first energy-positive, zero waste development. The development by gs8 provides a community garden with edible plants for its residents to encourage foraging. Living walls and roofs will aid biodiversity, improve air quality and provide urban cooling, whilst the design of the homes will minimise heat loss and maximise heat retention through strategic window placement. The developer will even provide households with a neighbourhood app to track energy consumption and offer tips on how to reduce it. Local labour and materials will be utilised where possible to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation, and to support the local economy.
In cases where structures stood before the new housing development, many housebuilders are reusing any non-contaminated material available to cut down on wastage and carbon impact, reducing the need to transport as much material from further afield.
But these changes aren’t just internally beneficial: saving housebuilders money when it comes to printing, material and other costs whilst reducing their carbon footprint, will have a sustained benefit to their public relations and customer perception. A Deloitte survey from 2020 reports that approximately 1 in 5 consumers are opting for low-carbon transport, switching to renewable energy, and taking fewer flights (likely heightened by the travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic). With climate change not going away any time soon, it’s likely we will see the importance of such factors increase in the near future with many consumers considering the environmental impact of their homes, making carbon credentials a key factor among all of our buying criteria. As a result, the more eco-friendly housebuilders should reap the benefits.
Here at Space & Time we share the eco-friendly views of our clients, echoing this in our media recommendations and buying. In addition to using sustainable direct mail suppliers, our media often takes a more digital focus. Where applicable digital panels are prioritised when running OOH to eliminate paper wastage and the same can be applied to press where e-copies are available. In addition, we provide a full range of digital services and media across Social, PPC, Programmatic and SEO, along with training across these channels, Google Analytics and more, thus reducing the environmental impact of our media. Digital media has been the coming thing for decades now of course, but as consumers’ concerns about climate change are only likely to increase in the coming years we may see increased reluctance to consume more traditional media options that aren’t overtly green.
If you’d like to get in touch about a more eco-friendly marketing campaign, contact us here and we can work together to help make the planet a greener space.