Historically, estate agents have had to spend a lot of their time driving to get to properties all over the island. In order for our time to be used best, the quickest and most effective way to carry out appointments is to use our cars. The obvious way for us to reduce our carbon footprint is to start using electric cars instead of conventional ones. Over the last few years there has become a very good second hand electric car market and we are seeing an increase in their usage. Quoting Sky News:
‘Some 14,586 used battery electric cars were bought in the UK during the first three months of the year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said. That is more than double the total of 6,625 during the same period last year, with the market share of used electric vehicles rising from 1.6% to 3.6%.’
E-bikes and electric vehicles
Personally my new favourite way to go to appointments is to use my E-Bike. After a few test runs, I found out that on average it only took me 5 minutes longer to arrive at an appointment. It then provided me with some fresh air and I skipped past all the traffic. A few people questioned whether it was appropriate, but no one questioned me on it apart from, ‘where did you get that from?’. I have also had applicants show up on their E-Bikes as well.
To be completely honest, Jersey is the perfect place to own an electric vehicle due to its size and charging infrastructure. You can see how the public’s perception of them has changed due to how many more you see on the road compared to a few years ago.
While the above is the most obvious way to go greener, we have taken steps in the office as well. We no longer print out property details unless requested as all the information that is required can be either viewed on our website or sent via PDF. This also goes for any letters, plans, and other correspondence. Heavily reducing our paper usage also helps us keep costs down.
What has been very interesting is the shift in how new homes are being built. New developments in the late 90’s and early 2000’s used oil fired central heating to heat homes. If not that then they used storage heaters that now look dated and are quite expensive to use. Nowadays oil fired central heating is becoming less and less common with developers preferring to use an electric heating system. Either underfloor or electric radiators. Old oil and gas central heating systems can easily be converted to electric using a modern and efficient electric boiler.
The most popular ‘new’ and green technology is solar power. Although it has been around for a long time it has become, over the last few years, the most affordable and the easiest way to generate energy for your home. Again, Jersey is incredibly well placed for this as we receive a high level of sunlight throughout the year and a lot of people are seeing the benefits of adding solar power to their homes. Tesla are now even producing small solar roof tiles that are placed onto your existing roof tiles, and retain the look of your home without needing the large solar panels that are commonly used.
Although this is by no means the only way to power your home using renewable energy. Other common options are air source heat pumps, geothermal energy, and small wind turbines. There are other options but the above are by far the most common.
It is not just how to power homes that has changed but also how the homes are constructed. Interestingly there have been changes that have also looked back at historical construction methods that are not only renewable, good for the environment, but also highly efficient in reducing the energy costs for your home. Thatched roofs for one are highly efficient, rammed earth walls/floors, wool insulation, and living roofs to name a few. Some of the most striking modern designs have used the above methods fully or in part.
Pre fab homes are also a very popular option for a greener home
A pre fab home is a property that is built in a factory in sections and then constructed on site much like a large 3D jigsaw. There are many companies that now provide options. One of my favourite houses on Jersey was constructed in this way. The company used no chemicals in the construction of the property. All the waste that they generated was converted and used for insulating the property. They then added solar power, air source heat pumps and a Tesla battery pack to make the property entirely self sufficient.
Passive houses take this one step further
A passive house is not a particular type of house but a design concept. The Wikipedia definition is:
‘Passive house is a voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.’
To achieve the certification for these properties they have to be checked and certified by an independent certifier and not by anyone involved in the building process. I only know of one certified passive house in Jersey and it is pretty special.
Sustinability & Jersey
All in all there has been a tangible shift in attitudes with property developers, and in the government to provide sustainable options and push methods of construction, that not only last long term but are kinder to the environment. These things do take time but we are seeing progress. Whilst new methods and technologies usually start with a high price point and are seen in new high end homes initially it does eventually filter down and become more affordable and therefore more accessible (case and point is solar power).
While Jersey is a small place, it is in the unique position to test out new ideas and technologies for green tech be it construction or transport and everything in between. The small population in comparison to the rest of the world provides rapid feedback and this is a huge advantage in developing new and exciting technologies.