The Green New Way Presented By BTR
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Those involved in built to rent tout its many benefits; for example, BTR buildings are usually comfortable, flexible and well-connected. By making the best use of space, the creation of BTR schemes could go some way toward lessening the UK’s housing crisis.
But just as importantly, BTR presents an unrivalled opportunity to increase the green credentials of the UK’s housing sector considerably, by creating shiny new buildings that can incorporate sustainability from the outset. Those involved in moulding the sector should put this at the top of their agenda, Tate Consulting Managing Director Jeff Bearcroft said.
“As building services engineers, we can have a direct impact on the level of greenhouse gas emissions and the health and wellbeing of the people that live and work in the spaces we are helping to create,” Bearcroft said. “Our ethos is to use technology and innovation to minimise the impact on the environment, while providing an efficient and cost-effective service with renewable energy and sustainable practices.”
A New Sector, A New Benchmark
The UK’s housing crisis is becoming more pronounced every day. The government is nowhere near providing the estimated 300,000 new homes needed in England each year. BTR can offer one solution to this crisis, Bearcroft said, and the sector is starting to gain steam. The firm has built up considerable experience in BTR as the sector evolves, working on a series of large-scale developments across the country.
Tate Consulting is currently involved in The Royal Wharf development, part of a £3.5B regeneration project in the West Silvertown district. When complete in 2020, the project will provide 3,385 residential units and more than 100K SF of retail and commercial space.
“This exciting new development is not simply about building new homes for people and providing commercial space, it’s also about creating a brand-new neighbourhood in London,” Bearcroft said.
As these vast, new-build schemes emerge, sustainable methods and materials can be incorporated from the beginning — from the way they are constructed right the way through to how they are managed. While reducing the building’s impact on the environment, it is also possible to pass on cost savings to tenants.
For example, Tate Consulting worked with MODA LIVING to create an energy and utility management solution for their BTR developments. The solution, called COMM:UNITY and designed by Amber Energy, allows residents to pay one fee for all bills, which offers several benefits for residents.
“Residents benefit from cost savings — just a single bill for electricity, gas and water means there’s no need to switch tariffs each year or to provide regular manual meter readings,” Bearcroft said. “Solar panels specified by us were also fitted to the roof of the apartment building alongside a combined heat and power unit, both of which provide electricity that can be used within the building, further reducing energy costs.”
Making The Most Of Clever Tech
A further benefit of constructing a new BTR scheme is the opportunity to add smart technology that helps to minimise the building’s impact on the world around it. From smart meters to connected appliances and intelligent heating systems, new products are constantly emerging.
“Smart buildings can present real opportunities to optimise the planning and usage of a building, as well as to help it run more intelligently and efficiently,” Bearcroft said. “This will improve living, working and leisure environments and create a unique building experience that is tailored to individual needs.”
We are still on the cusp of creating smart buildings, however, and technology use is far from widespread. Not all developers are familiar with what is available, Bearcroft warned, and there are dangers associated with getting too excited, too soon.
“There is a requirement for informing contractors and clients of the benefits, disadvantages and realistic limitations of smart technology systems to ensure we achieve a safe and secure cyber environment,” Bearcroft said. “The use of smart technology in our industry is constantly evolving and therefore our knowledge needs to keep up.”
With realistic expectations firmly set, however, there is real excitement surrounding the new technologies that BTR schemes can incorporate. If sustainability is kept at the forefronts of everyone’s minds from the beginning, the newest methods and products can create schemes that support communities well into the future.
This feature was produced by Bisnow Branded Content in collaboration with Tate Consulting. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.