3 min read

Environmental sustainability is changing the way global industries, governments, businesses and individuals behave. The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year while the estimated cost of dealing with changes in the climate is expected to be $535 trillion by the end of the century.

Combined with the finite amount of fossil fuels we have access to, it is no wonder that specialists across every sector are beginning to focus on sustainable projects. Professionals are looking to increase green energy production, reduce waste, improve recycling processes, and reduce carbon emissions.

Within the real estate sector, sustainability is being prioritised so people across the world can live in homes that don’t damage the environment. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is one of the most popular green building certificates being given out to construction companies across the planet, with over 94,000 projects using LEED.

To highlight how the real estate industry is aiming to improve and innovate sustainably, we’ve listed four sustainable projects which are shaping the sector and will continue to do so in years to come.

Greywater Recycling

The term ‘greywater’ applies to water used in the home for showering, washing dishes, washing clothes, and watering a garden. It is the water that is not used for drinking or flushing a toilet, known as ‘blackwater’. Greywater makes up around 50-80% of a household’s wastewater and usually, once the water leaves a house, it will have to go to a recycling plant in order to be made usable again.

However, some new housing developments are being fitted with their own treatment facilities. As a result of this, an individual household can drastically reduce its use of water.

The Chelsea Barracks Masterplan is a 12.8-acre development in West London that is following a sustainable management plan. This will ensure that the buildings are developed in a sustainable, holistic and consistent manner. Included in this will be the recycling of greywater and harvesting of rainwater.

Environmentally-friendly concrete

Portland cement is the most widely used type of cement in the world. It’s been utilised in almost every major city and infrastructure project.  However, the production process has hardly changed since the formula was patented around 200 years ago. The process releases large amounts of carbon dioxide which contributes to the dramatically increasing global temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

That is why CO2NCRETE are tackling the issue and developing a carbon-neutral production process. The resulting concrete, upon being set within a building, even goes on to remove carbon dioxide from the air.

The hope is that smart materials like this will be used on many more major real estate projects. Homes could one day help clean up the planet and significantly reduce the impact of global warming.

High-rise sustainability

The UN predicts that 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. As a consequence, it is vital that space within cities is used efficiently. The solution has always been to build upwards and create entire communities within buildings that tower into the sky.

The Visionaire Residential Tower is the first LEED Platinum condominium building in New York City and the project has had a significant impact on how urban real estate development is viewed. Using 43% less energy thanks to special glass and insulation materials, and 27% less water thanks to grey and blackwater recycling compared to similar buildings, the Visionaire has sustainability at its heart. As well as incorporating green roofing and intelligent environmental control systems, the building uses absorption chillers and waste heat from microturbines to keep residents warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

A cleaner future

In Q2 of 2018, 28.1% of the UK’s energy was generated by renewable energy sources. This is a sharp increase on the 5.9% which was generated in Q2 of 2010.

By 2030, around 50% of cars and 40% of vans sold in the UK will be ultra-low emission. On top of this, diesel will have been phased out altogether. As new developments are made in real estate and construction, the hope is of a more sustainable future ahead.