Promoting environmentally friendly behaviours

Meeting the UK's ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 will require some radical changes to the way we live. Two of the largest sources of carbon emissions are transport, at 28 per cent, and residential end users, at 27 per cent of the UK total. The built environment must make it possible, and enjoyable, for people to live low-carbon lifestyles.

Lessons Learned

Meeting regulatory environmental standards should not be about 'ticking boxes' but should be about driving forward innovative building approaches and technologies.

See: East Thames & Hammarby Sjöstad

Environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices can be the easy and obvious choice for residents, if the buildings and layout of new communities are designed to facilitate day-to-day pro-environmental choices.

See: Hammarby Sjöstad

Residents' individual behaviour is still a crucial component in creating environmentally sustainable communities.

See: Hammarby Sjöstad

Community assets such as parks and green spaces can be used to promote residents' environmental awareness.

See: Milton Keynes

Questions to consider:

  • Are there particular environmentally friendly design features in the new development that may attract new residents keen to live sustainable lifestyles, and if so will residents receive information and training about how to use these effectively?
  • What provision will be made to promote safe cycling?
  • What is being done to minimise car use within and outside the neighbourhood?
  • What plans are there for raising awareness about environmental issues and environmentally friendly lifestyles?
  • Are local agencies or utility companies willing to subsidise more expensive environmental technologies?

Building regulations already require new homes to perform to higher environmental standards than most existing housing. The specifications will continue to rise and by 2016 all new homes are expected to meet a zero-carbonGlossary:  refers to a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year standard, equivalent to level 6 of the Code for Sustainable HomesGlossary: used to evaluate the environmental sustainability of a home

. These technological improvements will help to reduce energy use but in themselves they are not enough. Environmentally friendly lifestyles and behaviours - such as the use of sustainable transport, more efficient appliances within homes and waste recycling where possible will also be needed to meet national targets. This can be encouraged by creating an environmentally friendly culture, providing green alternatives and incentivising green behaviours.

Further Reading

Elements within this ingredent:

1. Creating an environmental friendly culture

Communities will need to appeal to new residents, and perhaps in some cases educate them, so that 'green' lifestyles become a normal way of life.

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2. Providing green alternatives

Environmental considerations should be taken into account during the design and planning of the community and its buildings, to ensure that making environmentally friendly choices are easy and appealing to new residents.

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3. Incentivising green behaviours

In new communities subsidies could be offered to encourage the installation of environmental technologies, ranging from expensive solar panels to very cheap low energy light bulbs.

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