Tatler Experts' Corner: Is buying a sustainable property a wise investment?

As part of the Tatler SOS Experts’ Corner, we delve into the subject of investing sustainably and ethically. Here, Gary Hersham from Beauchamp Estates shares his advice on the benefits of investing in a sustainable home.

Sustainability is a word that has been used for decades and applied readily to almost everything in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at some point, as remark for transparency and excellence. In the course of the last two decades the validity and understanding of sustainability has changed for both organisations, businesses and consumers: the notion has moved on in people’s minds and solidified, to become a need in itself.

Sustainability is about the future and the need to create a sustainable system, balanced between productivity and environmental respect: the United Nations talked about sustainability as ‘economic development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’

As the impact of ignoring sustainability becomes all too clear and real, in regard to the planet and human existence, the value of being guided by principles of sustainability is finding favour with an ever expanding group of people and governments.

This is particularly true for wealthy individuals for whom engaging with and supporting issues of sustainability and the environment speaks to their fundamental principles and philanthropic and humanistic ideals – this is not just about aware men and women planting physical and metaphorical trees, the shade of which they will never sit under, but about these ideals informing and shaping an individual’s decisions and patterns of behaviour: from the food they eat and the clothes they wear, to the investments they make and the homes they buy.

While legislation for issues of sustainability may have started as a ‘bottom up’ movement, there exists in the majority of developed countries an increasing swath of fundamental legislation and taxation policies forcing organisations to meet minimum standards of sustainability and encouraging and rewarding them for meeting the best possible: this is driving energy conservation, water harvesting, recycling, and the reduction of pollution from transportation of materials.

With real estate anticipated to consume around 40 per cent of global energy annually, accounting for over 20 per cent of international carbon emissions, sustainability in the property world is a poignant issue. Increasingly stringent measures and targets, in addition to the race to become carbon neutral, have required all parts of the sector, from planners and architects, to developers and funds, to provide increasing transparency to demonstrate their commitment. Capturing and successfully harnessing this value has been challenging for the real estate sector, particularly so in some areas, though less in others.

The link between sustainability initiatives and the creation of value is becoming more apparent in all four main sustainability value drivers: financial savings; worker attraction and retention; brand and reputation; and of course customer attraction and retention. Proactive approaches to increasing a building’s sustainability credentials are now becoming the norm for future-proofing, creating better long-term returns and satisfying occupier demands and needs.

By taking steps to develop greener buildings, the property sector can reduce its negative environmental impact. However, sustainability no longer simply covers the traditional issues of energy-water-waste. It now also encompasses issues such as biodiversity, health and wellbeing, customer and community engagement and behaviour change; things that ever aware consumers want to see in place, be a part of and actively support.

The ‘green credentials’ of homes are increasingly important to consumers who want their decisions and financial patronage to minimise harm to the environment and to know that their homes and the systems that ensure their comfort are not delivered at maximum cost to the very environment in which they, and future generations, will live.

This change, for both developers and customers, is bringing to the market and built environment homes and buildings for which green credentials are at the very heart of their specification: from the materials used in the build, to the systems and appliances fitted. These are no longer statements of fashion or intent, but fundamentals to secure planning, funding and sales.

One St Johns Wood is an excellent example of how principles of sustainability, when fully embedded, can deliver homes that are not only best in class from a technical perspective, but also hugely appealing to buyers both from a standpoint of aesthetics and the environment. Located in the leafy central London suburb of St John’s Wood, these new build homes deploy the very best in ambient environment systems, heating and cooling, in addition to water usage and biodiversity issues with gardens and a living roof.

The master bedroom at One St. John’s Wood

Beauchamp Estates

When being an early adopter of cutting edge or new technology there is generally a premium to be paid. However, we are increasingly finding more and more clients who are happy to meet that cost, not only for the more immediate and financial benefits that may accrue, or for future-proofing and creation of something that will sustain its value more effectively, but also for those less tangible or easily quantifiable environmental benefits too. It’s an investment in everyone’s future.

For more gold-standard guidance on investing sustainably visit the Tatler High Net Worth Address Book.