According to the UK Green Building Council Task Group, the quality and design of homes and neighbourhoods is a key factor in improving the wellbeing and health of the people who live there. Approximately 30% of renters and buyers would pay more for properties with those characteristics.
The findings are part of the “Health and Wellbeing in Homes” report produced by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), which includes consumer research by Saint-Gobain. The report aims to increase the focus of the property industry on how they can positively improve the mental, social and physical health and wellbeing of home occupiers, by providing recommendations and evidence for the industry.
According to the report, there are eighteen factors that make up a healthy home, ranging from lighting, sound insulation and materials, through to connections with the local community, and practical considerations such as having laundry provision to prevent moisture and mould build up.
Key findings of the report are:
Construction and property professionals have an opportunity to dramatically enhance the lives of people through the design and quality of homes and neighbourhoods.
It is vital to consider all three aspects of health and wellbeing equally – mental, social and physical, requiring the industry to think beyond the physical impact of design
Solutions for minimising the impact of the built environment on mental health are often the same as those required to minimise the impact on physical health- a single design feature, such as good daylight levels, good ventilation or the provision of open space, can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing and physical health so need to be considered early in the design process
Many of the design features which enhance health and wellbeing also bring positive environmental benefits. For example, better daylighting can also reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, and the provision of green space can enhance biodiversity
Health and wellbeing is increasingly influencing consumers’ buying and decision-making processes, spanning generations and consumer demographics. The results of consumer research, carried out by Saint-Gobain as part of the Task Group, demonstrate that UK consumers want a home that contributes to their health and wellbeing. Furthermore, almost 30 per cent would be willing to pay more for such a home, whether buying or renting.
John Alker, Campaign and Policy Director at the UK-GBC, said: “Good health and wellbeing starts at home – from the quality of the air we breathe, or the amount of daylight we enjoy, to our access to neighbourhood amenities. This is an issue which impacts everyone, in every community in the country.
“With consumer interest in health and wellbeing showing no sign of diminishing, there is a key opportunity for the housebuilding sector to provide high quality, healthy and sustainable homes, which our evidence demonstrates buyers are starting to value.”
The report was produced by a UK-GBC Task Group comprised of companies and experts from across the built environment, which was sponsored by AkzoNobel, Forbo and Hoare Lea. “Health and Wellbeing in Homes” is one of a series of reports produced as part of the World GBC’s “Better Places for People” campaign. Other reports include “Health and Wellbeing in Offices” and “Health and Wellbeing in Retail”.
What Does the Rising Alt-Right Movement Mean for Climate Change Propaganda?
Time author Justin Worland penned an insightful post this summer about the increasingly divisive attitudes on climate change. Worland pointed out that concerns about climate science used to be a bipartisan focus, but have since become primarily the concern of the left.
The Alt-Right Gives Renewed Voice to Climate Change Denialism
Unfortunately, the battle is becoming more divisive than ever before. The rise of the alt-right movement has propelled climate change denialism into overdrive. The election of Donald Trump illustrates this perfectly. In 2012, Trump tweeted that climate change was a mess created by the Chinese. At the time, his statement was dismissed as a mocking jab at the current president. However, after millions of alt-right voters put Trump in office, these fears became more pronounced.
The alt-right movement is gaining steam across the Western World. This has created profound concerns about the inevitable future of climate change. Of course, not every alt-right group adheres to climate change denialism. A British paper writing service would likely publish more articles that are favorable to the climate change discussion, even if it was read primarily by right-wingers. However, that is of little solace to the rest of the world. While alt-right groups in mainland Europe may not share the American GOP’s hostility towards climate science, they will help reinforce their political capital.
Around the same time Worland published his article, his colleague at The Guardian, David Runciman wrote a piece that focused more heavily on recent developments driven by the alt-right.
“Not all climate sceptics are part of the “alt-right”. But everyone in the alt-right is now a climate sceptic. That’s what makes the politics so toxic. It means that climate scepticism is being driven out by climate cynicism. A sceptic questions the evidence for a given claim and asks whether it is believable. A cynic questions the motives of the people who deploy the evidence, regardless of whether it is believable or not. Any attempt to defend the facts gets presented as evidence that the facts simply suit the interests of the people peddling them.”
Does this mean that the quest to fight climate change has been lost? No. A new generation of right wingers are beginning to break the cycle of climate change denialism. According to recent polls, millennial conservatives are much more likely to be concerned about the future of climate change then they’re older conservative brethren. They may help turn the tide of the political discussion, so climate change can once again be a bipartisan concern.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of concerns:
- Millennials are less politically active, so they may not have the influence necessary to temper the alt-right position on climate change.
- The alt-right has significant control over the discussion. Trump has taken efforts to bar studies that contradict his position on climate change. Millennial attitudes on climate science make shift after being exposed to alt-right propaganda.
The biggest concern of all is that it may be too late to address the problem by the time millennials have any meaningful political influence.
So what can be done to address the issue? Climate change advocates must be more diligent than ever. They will be combating a group of climate change deniers with a lot more political support. They will need to make the case that fighting climate change is not a political concern, but a concern of human survival.
With concerns about climate change mounting, they will also need to make it one of their primary ballot points during coming elections. If they create enough of a protest, they may be able to turn the tide of discussion.
How Home Automation Can Help You Go Green
The holidays are an exciting, nostalgic time: the crispness in the air, the crunch of snow under your boot, the display of ornate holiday lighting up your home like a beacon to outer space, and the sound of Santa’s bell at your local Walmart.
Oh, yeah—and your enormous electric bill.
Extra lights and heating can make for some unexpected budgeting problems, and they also cause your home to emit higher levels of CO2 and other pollutants.
So, it’s not just your wallet that’s hurting—the planet is hurting as well.
You can take the usual steps to save energy and be more eco-conscious as you go about your normal winter routine (e.g., keeping cooler temperatures in the home, keeping lights off in naturally lit rooms, etc.), but these methods can often be exhausting and ultimately ineffective.
So what can you actually do to create a greener home?
Turn to tech.
Technology is making waves in conservation efforts. AI and home automation have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, not only because of their cost saving benefits but also because of their ability to improve a home’s overall energy efficiency.
Use the following guide to identify your home’s inefficiencies and find a solution to your energy woes.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
Many people don’t understand how their homes use energy, so they struggle with conservation. Start by looking at your monthly utility bills. They can show you how much energy your home typically uses and what systems cost you the most.
The usual culprits for high costs and energy waste tend to be the water heater and heating and cooling system. Other factors could also impact your home’s efficiency. Your home’s insulation, for example, could be a huge source of wasted heating and cooling—especially if the insulation hasn’t been inspected or replaced in years. You should also check your windows and doors for proper weatherproofing every year.
However, waiting for your monthly bill or checking out your home’s construction issues are time-consuming steps, and they don’t help you immediately understand and tackle the problem. Instead, opt for an easier solution. Some homeowners, for example, use a smart energy monitor such as Sense to track energy use in real time and identify energy hogs.
Use Smart Plugs
Computers, televisions, and lights still consume energy if they’re left on and unused. Computers offer easy cost savings with their built-in timers that allow the devices to use less energy—they typically turn off after a set number of minutes. Televisions sometimes provide the same benefit, although you may have to fiddle with the settings to activate this feature.
A better option—and one that thwarts both the television and the lights—is purchasing smart plugs. The average US home uses more than 900 kilowatts of electricity per month. That can really add up, especially when you realize that people are wasting more than $19 billion every year on household appliances that are always plugged in. Smart plugs like WeMo can help eliminate wasted electricity by letting you control plugged-in items from your smartphone.
Update Your Lighting
Incandescent lightbulbs can consume and waste a lot of energy—35% of CO2 emissions are generated from electric power plants. This can have serious consequences for increased global warming.
To reduce your impact on the environment, you can install more efficient lightbulbs to offset your energy usage. However, many homeowners choose smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, to save money and make their homes more energy efficient.
Smart lights can be controlled from your smartphone, and many smart light options come with monthly energy reporting so you can continue to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Take Control of the Thermostat
Homeowners often leave the thermostat on its default settings, but defaults often result in heating and cooling systems that run longer and harder than they need to.
In fact, almost half the average residential energy use comes from energy-demanding heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to fiddling with outdated systems, eco-conscious homeowners use smart thermostats to save at least 10% on heating and roughly 15% on cooling per year.
Change your home’s story by employing a smart thermostat such as the Nest, ecobee3, or Honeywell Lyric. Smart thermostats automatically adjust your in-home temperature by accounting for a variety of factors, including outdoor humidity and precipitation. A lot of smart thermostats will also adjust your home’s temperature depending on the time of day and whether you’re home.
Stop Wasting Water
The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. About one-third of that goes to maintaining their yards. Using a smart irrigation systems to improve your water usage can save your home up to 8,800 gallons of water per year.
Smart irrigation systems use AI to sync with local weather predictions, which can be really helpful if you have a garden or fruit trees that you use your irrigation system for water. Smart features help keep your garden and landscaping healthy by making sure you never overwater your plants or deprive them of adequate moisture.
If you’re looking to make your home greener, AI-enabled products could make the transition much easier. Has a favorite tool you use that wasn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments below.