First it was plastics, next it’s going to be our homes - a nation of eco warriors has finally awoken to the dangers faced by our planet.
David Attenborough highlighted the damage plastics are causing to our oceans. Now eco living is becoming more of an aspiration
A single episode of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II caused a sea change in many people’s buying habits to rid the world and its waters of harmful plastics.
Now eco living is becoming more of an aspiration than a buzzphrase.
Our buildings are responsible for half the world’s energy use and half of its greenhouse gas emissions. Housing alone generates 29% of emissions in the UK.
A government target for all homes to be zero carbon by 2020 was abandoned, leaving it up to the conscience of each housebuilder as to whether or not their new developments should be energy-efficient. Now there is growing pressure for fresh targets to be set with urgency.
"Our ethos is about being prepared better for the future"
There are some developers who appreciate the bigger picture. Bruno and Dr Anita Herdeiro had an idea of building homes for people in their later years - a flexible term as their current project is for the benefit of people aged 55 and over.
They bought a former stately home in Cumbria, which they are renovating for the use of people who buy the luxury villas built next door. The hall will eventually contain apartments, too.
They didn’t need to make their homes eco friendly. Being situated in rural Cumbria, overlooking rolling fields and a wooded nature reserve with a river winding through, is enough of a selling point.
But Anita and Bruno are on a mission to change the way we view retirement and living our later years, and being eco-friendly is a core driver of their beliefs.
Anita says: “Both Bruno and I believe strongly in sustainability. Our ethos is about being prepared better for the future, learning from the Nordic countries, which have embraced ageing as an opportunity to look at how we live our lives and how to create preventative models to address ageing and wellbeing.”
The Herdeiros travelled to Denmark, Sweden and Norway to carry out their research. They returned with a determination to put eco living at the heart of their new homes.
Scalesceugh Hall & Villas is situated five miles south of Carlisle, a very short car journey (there are electric charging points at the villas) or bus journey from the stunning Lake District.
A-rated windows measuring up to 4.8 metres have been brought over from Denmark
The trip to Denmark resulted in A-rated windows from the country being shipped across for use in the villas - huge glass panels measuring up to 4.8 metres, improving both insulation and light into the homes.
Each home also has an air-source heat pump. This extracts heat from the outside air - even when the temperature is as low as -15C.
Environmental benefits include lower carbon emissions and no fuel deliveries. Other pros include lower fuel bills and the ability to heat radiators or underfloor systems, as well as your water.
They also require minimal maintenance and allow a consistent temperature throughout the home. With no pockets of heat or cold, that is better for our respiratory systems.
Scalesceugh Villas are constructed using natural timber with high insulation - sections are built off site and then put together efficiently onsite, saving time overall.
The journey taken by Anita and Bruno to Sweden was an eye-opening one, especially for Anita, who is a GP.
In Sweden, 25% of the population are elderly, a figure similar to that of Cumbria, but the emphasis on later years living is built on empowering and respecting the seniors. Health care is focused on prevention of illnesses and social isolation is tackled through promotion of retirement communities.
Scandinavians have long espoused the use of latest and emerging technologies, especially where being kinder to the environment is a concern.
The UK, meanwhile, does have a long way to go to reach zero carbon levels. But developers like Bruno and Anita are leading the steps in the right direction.
Bruno and Dr Anita Herdeiro on the steps of Scalesceugh Hall