Save the Planet
Be part of the future, now.
We have shown you how you can save time and money with a live/work property, what about the planet?
There is great news here too. Because by choosing a live/work lifestyle you are making one of the biggest contributions an individual can make towards the sustainability of the planet. Looking to the future, live/work looks set to become a necessity as much as a choice.
Recycling your wine bottles and newspapers every Wednesday is all very well. But what if you drive every day to a separate workplace, one that uses gas for heating, electricity for power - and was built with natural materials that could have been used more sparingly? Are you not undoing your other contributions to the fight against global warming?
One of live/work’s key environmental benefits is its huge reduction in the use of precious natural resources:
- one property is constructed not two (separate home and workspace)
- one property requires power and heat not two (major reductions in waste of electricity, gas, water).
This matters. The UK construction industry produces three times the waste produced by all UK households combined, at 70m tonnes. Of this, 13m tonnes is materials delivered to sites but not used. And energy from non-renewable sources used by the construction trade accounts for around half the UK's CO2 emissions (source: DTI).
Live/work is also often constructed on brownfield sites. And live/work properties are ideal for businesses in sectors with low environmental impact. The other key sustainability benefit of live/work is its ability to reduce car use.
The average UK worker commutes 2,906 miles per year and travels 1,622 miles on business by car. Cutting these figures is key to meeting the government’s climate change targets. Travel makes up a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions that are fuelling global warming. By working 'down the wire, rather than down the road', live/workers can help meet these targets.
A survey carried out by Live Work Network showed that live/work residents had managed to cut a typical 50 miles off their weekly travelling time. One estimated that her work travel had reduced from 250 miles per week to around 40.
From transport planners' point of view, it is not only the mileage, but the number of trips eliminated that is important - and the time of day they occur. The reduction of regular commuting trips during the morning and evening peaks helps take the pressure off the roads when they are most congested.
But cutting out the commute is not the only way that live/work helps to promote environmental sustainability. Building Research Establishment figures show that the heating and lighting of buildings accounts for half the UK carbon dioxide emissions. Heating and lighting one space instead of two obviously uses less carbon. And a live/work space does not have to be heated up only to cool down at night like offices do. It makes full use of property 24/7.
Live/work property can also cut the energy wasted in the construction process. English Heritage research shows the enormous waste of resources in the process of demolition and new build. The manufacture of construction materials alone involves a vast amount of heat every year. And because they are heavy, their transportation eats up precious extra energy.
Live/work can provide a new use for buildings no longer required for their original purpose, like Victorian warehouses and even factories. The higher value of live/work properties make it worthwhile converting buildings that would normally otherwise lie derelict or face the ball and chain.
Meanwhile live/workers are more likely to shop locally, helping to sustain local business and often doing so on foot. Live/work can also sustain community life too. Somebody who is not stressed by commuting has more free time and energy to participate in local clubs and charities.
Governments are responsible for helping their countries to meet Kyoto targets to minimise climate change
Richard McCarthy, the Department for Local Government and Communities’ director general of sustainable communities backs live/work. Speaking at a Live Work Network conference at BT headquarters in 2004, he said:
"We do support live/work developments. They fit with the creation of sustainable communities and mixed-use development, reducing the need for travel and encouraging home working."
Never mind the warm words, here is some evidence for those of you who prefer numbers!
A study on the environmental impact of home office compared to regular office (Dept Employment, Sheffield 1997) showed:
- a home office burns 20MJ per day
- a typical office burns 80MJ per worker per day
- car based commuting burns 52MJ per day.
A study in Munich in 2003 found home based workers cutting their total trips by 19%, their work trips by 43% (source: www.flexibility.co.uk). The German Federal Environment Agency found emissions savings by those working from home were:
- carbon dioxide decrease 27 kg per week
- nitrogen oxide 71g per week.
The State of California Telecommuting pilot project recently identified the following benefits when people worked form home not office:
- a 64% decrease in carbon monoxide
- a 61% decrease in nitrogen oxide
- a 27% reduction in personal vehicle trips
- a 39% decrease in cold engine starts
- a 48% reduction in total organic gases emitted.
You are not alone
As individuals we cannot make a huge difference to global warming. But by joining the growing numbers who work from home, we surely can.
The government's Labour Force Survey shows that home-based working in the UK as a whole has been rising rapidly over many years - from about 1.01 million in 1997 to 2.9 million in 1999 to almost 3.3 million in the spring of 2004 – trebling in 12 years.
Straightforward 'push and pull' factors are contributing to live/work’s growing appeal. Rising housing costs and a growing resistance to commuting. Advances in new technology, especially home broadband connections. These are making live/work increasingly attractive – and the traditional office increasingly less so.
Live/workers are leading contributors to the global warming fightback. So don't just save yourself time and money, help save the planet...
Live/work property's sustainability impact: what can it deliver?
- no more commuting emissions
- fewer cars on the road in rush hour
- fewer materials used to build unnecessary work premises
- fuel use in one property not two
- 24 hour occupation - no need to heat home or workspace 'from cold'
- one water supply not two
- less land used, brownfield sites and old buildings re-used
- enhance 'daytime economy' in neighbourhoods - live/workers spend more than commuters in the local area
- live/work use of buildings typically supports environmentally friendly work eg in the creative, technology and knowledge sectors
- improved neighbourhood security through continual occupation.