Housing Specification Blog

Sustainable homes for the future

September 28, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Innovations

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director at Forum for the Future is today’s guest blogger. He explains his concern over the lack of affordable homes and suggests that sustainable solutions are the key to a housing revival. Jonathon will be giving a talk at Homes 2012 in November.

I am deeply concerned with the lack of urgency associated with the current housing crisis. There is a huge gap between the amount of houses being built and those needed, and I still don’t think we’ve cracked the mechanism to bridge that gap. As it stands, there is no proactive, dynamic way of managing the housing need and we’ve been permanently on the back foot since Thatcher’s council house buying initiative was brought in. It’s something our political system needs to take charge of; otherwise the sector will have a very dim future.

I believe sustainability is the key to the housing crisis.

There are plenty of innovations in housing which are starting to address the need for sustainability, but will become even more imperative as time moves on. We need to build in a way which is ‘fit for purpose’ in an increasingly low-carbon world. Sustainability will continue to move through the pipeline, extending further than simply the construction process and methods into procurement, delivery and the day-to-day housing management and aftercare.

There is a continual challenge to persuade people that doing things sustainably will create a stronger economy through greater efficiency and more profitable business. In the 1970s, sustainability was seen as hostile to profitability, and although times have changed significantly, there’s still a lot of work to do in changing perceptions.

I am speaking at the Homes 2012 event on the sustainability agenda, the innovation this has stimulated, and also land use and planning.  The sustainability agenda has already had a huge impact on the way houses are built and will certainly continue to alter the way we approach construction in the future. I will look at the way that advances in technology can be used in building – exploring different examples such as offsite construction.

I’ll also be looking at how we can make a sufficient number of homes available. I’ll discuss the issues of green belt land and proposals to use this for building, how to deal with the UK’s empty houses’ and ways to provide for our ever increasing population.

Times are definitely changing in the sector, so the event will be a great place to engage in some lively discussion and debate about such issues. Housing is often not given appropriate attention and I feel the industry has a lot to learn and live up to in terms of innovation.  I’m interested to keep ahead of what’s happening in the industry, particularly regarding the Code for Sustainable Homes and how this is working in practice. I’d also like to hear other peoples’ opinions on how we can make zero and low carbon housing work more cost-effectively.

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