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Let’s make our communities sustainable to improve people’s wellbeing



A record number of children will be in British schools by 2020. Meanwhile, the number of people living in urban areas is due to double by 2050, because of greater job opportunities and higher standards of living.

As populations in our cities become increasingly dense, sustainability is thrust into the limelight. Sustainable communities aim to maximise local ecosystem services and occupant productivity without burdening the landscape. They also seek to provide safer and more connected living spaces for their dwellers, who then rely less on transportation and energy.

This already exists in the UK. The town of Ashton Hayes in Cheshire (pictured) is working with various institutions in order to become Britain’s first carbon neutral settlement. Since 2006, residents have been collectively reducing energy consumption through localised electricity generation, awareness and education schemes, as well as behavioural changes in lifestyle.

With the aide of the University of Cheshire, locals are encouraged to monitor their energy usage through the installation of smart meters. Others have committed to driving fewer miles by walking more. Micro-grid electricity generation has been adopted in order to promote shared energy, whilst school children are taught about the benefits of ecosystem services and biodiversity. Such changes have led to a 23% reduction in carbon emissions.

Furthermore, a new development in Hettonbury – focused on improving community links and resident lifestyle – was orchestrated in 1997. Through renewable energy rollout, including sustainable drainage (SUDS), inhabitants are encouraged to reside in the area by offering nearby services such as schools and supermarkets. Each resident is only allowed one car park, thereby encouraging more manual means of transportation.

Increased green spaces are a cornerstone of sustainable communities. As well as providing improved zones for local wildlife and biodiversity, research shows that people living near such spaces also experience health and wellbeing benefits. Inhabitants living near green areas in urban settings are found to have significantly lower levels of stress than those living further away. Such places are also able to store atmospheric carbon due to photosynthesis.

Broader applications of the sustainable community framework exist, however. In 2003, Tony Blair’s Labour government published the Sustainable communities: building for the future plan as part of its refurbishment initiative. The party also saw the City of London incorporate a sustainable development framework towards improving communal spaces.

Elsewhere, the Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative (SSCI) was launched in 2008 to provide refurbished housing and recreational opportunities in impoverished areas. Sixty-eight zones were targeted for improvement. These were focused more on removing stigmas and assisting suffering local economies through redevelopment and rebranding; aiming to draw in fresh investment, job creation and property interest.

Such plans met obstructions, however; mainly through lack of funds. The proposed reimaging proved difficult when obtaining private capital, with many financiers fearing it was better in thought than reality.

While Britain has many examples of sustainable communities, there are places away from these isles that are also leading the way. Singapore, for instance, has been praised by many due to its foresighted construction and connected occupants, despite its high population density. The city has in fact seen reduced dependence on transportation due to the fact that so many people occupy such a relatively small space.

With an ageing population, and the fact that almost 70 million people will be living in the UK by 2020, smarter and safer living environments are crucial in helping meet increased food and energy needs. But even more basically, sustainability in communities and cities is crucial in improving health, comfort, wellbeing and pleasure, not just for today, but for generations to come.

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution with a degree in English, he is currently studying for global environmental change MSc. 

Further reading:

Existing city infrastructure can be ‘reprogrammed’

Our future cities will have to be smarter and more resilient

Green versus grey infrastructure

Just one in four European cities fully prepared for climate change

We need expert problem-solvers to build the cities of the future

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution in July 2013 in English, Joseph will start the global environmental change course in September.


Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance



“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]

Report contents:

What you need to know
Report definition
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
The role of investing
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
The social debt of the financial crisis
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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