Economic and Environmental Sustainability

Garden communities should adopt a smart and sustainable approach that fosters resilient environments and communities, able to respond positively to changing circumstances. Innovation and technology should be embraced so as to achieve resource efficiency, higher quality of life and healthier lifestyles, and to create the conditions for sustainable living.

A garden community should be carbon-neutral or as close to it as possible, and should maximise opportunities for energy-generation, recycling, resource management and sustainable construction.

This should not only be incorporated in the design of the homes and communities, but also within the construction and planning processes themselves. Consideration should be given to the impact of materials used, the transport and sourcing of those materials, working methods, site waste-management, pollution, dust generation and noise nuisance. All of these are important in managing and improving the environmental, economic and social sustainability of developments.

The responsible sourcing of products, optimisation of efficiency and selection of products with a low environmental impact over the lifecycle of the building are all important aspects of the construction process to consider. In most cases, the expectation is that these issues and their impacts will be mitigated through monitoring, management and environmental targets.

The Home Quality Mark Guidance contains further information on sustainable construction and sourcing practices.

Modular housing is to be encouraged as this will minimise waste in the construction phase.

A decentralised and flexible model of energy provision should be explored where possible, with consideration also given to energy storage – which could have the effect of boosting energy resilience and meeting future demand, particularly from electric vehicles.

A circular economy approach should also be fostered. A circular economy can be defined as an alternative to the traditional linear economy (make, use and dispose). Instead, the resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while in use, then recovered and regenerated at the end of their service life. Within a garden community, there should be a concerted move away from a disposable culture which promotes waste production and resource inefficiency to one which reuses, recycles and minimises waste while optimising resources such as water.

Smart technology should be embraced in the planning, development and management of garden communities. This may include data analysis and smart monitoring (of water and energy use and waste generation) to increase the efficiency of utility management. Smart technologies can assist in the management and stewardship of communities through shared platforms and information.

Infrastructure should be put in place to assist and encourage sustainable consumption and generation from the outset, to avoid the necessity to retrofit later. Sustainable infrastructure is about promoting resource and energy efficiency and providing access to basic services, green space, decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. For example, sustainable motion sensor lighting can be used in public areas, taking into consideration the ‘Dark Sky’ initiative.

Developers should prioritise the use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) for surface water drainage and should promote household water conservation and reuse.

Also important to consider are charging points for electric vehicles (or the scope to easily retrofit as required) and smart technology to monitor individual household ‘energy’ accounts.

Composting at home or at a neighbourhood level should also be encouraged. The community hub should incorporate an energy centre for bio-waste, a bottle collection scheme and a grocery delivery and collection point. Waste can be used for energy-generation and can thereby potentially feed money back into the community.

Innovative waste collection technologies should also be explored; for example, a pay-per-drop scheme or smart bins that compact waste and indicate when a collection is needed.

Page updated: 9/02/2018

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