London’s most eco-friendly boroughs: Ealing, Bromley and Croydon top list of capital’s ‘greenest’ areas with low-emission homes
Brexit may define this general election, but pollsters predict that for the first time we will vote on climate change, too.
London has a clear strategy on how to become a zero-carbon city by 2050.
The draft New London Plan crafted by Mayor Sadiq Khan over the past four years outlines greener streets, a safe cycling culture, accessible public transport and cleaner construction.
But it still isn’t law. And although due to become official in the new year, it has taken so long that local authority pick-up is patchy, some still using the previous mayor’s version.
The different approaches are particularly stark when it comes to the environment.
New research by the world’s largest commercial estate agency, CBRE, reveals that Ealing, Bromley and Croydon are the most eco-friendly boroughs in Greater London. Richmond and Hillingdon are fourth and fifth.
The study ranks each borough by proportion of household waste composted or recycled, electric vehicle take-up, installation of renewable energy and spend on environmental initiatives
Barnet, Sutton, Bexley, Havering and Harrow complete the top 10.
London’s top 10 green boroughs
So, we can factor climate change into our electoral vote — but we can vote with our wallets when choosing a new home and new local authority.
“Increasing public concern about the environment and a move to more sustainable lifestyles are reflected in new-home building,” says Laura Puertollano Tracey, architect at CBRE.
The number of parking spaces has come down in favour of public transport or car-sharing. More secure bike storage and electric car charging points are being factored into design.
When buying a new home a good eco-checklist includes: Is it near public transport, safe cycle routes and walkways? Is there green space and wildlife nearby? Was the scheme built using clean construction methods, and how well insulated is it?
101 George Street, near East Croydon station, is cutting construction dust and pollution (HTA Design)
Southwark’s big spend
Although it doesn’t appear in CBRE’s overall top 10 eco-conscious boroughs, Southwark is spending more on green initiatives than any other council and aims to halve its harmful emissions by 2022.
Southwark has moved pension investments away from companies that damage the planet and phased out single-use plastic from its operations.
Miles of redundant railway track are being transformed into nature walks and plans are in the offing for a new linear park along the old Surrey Canal.
Lendlease, the developer behind the £2.3 billion regeneration of Elephant & Castle, is building new homes at Elephant Park which will be 35 per cent more energy efficient than current regulations require and use 30 per cent less water than the average London household.
Lendlease has built a combined heat and power plant that will deliver low-carbon heating and hot water to residents and businesses across the scheme.
West Grove at Elephant Park is a string of new homes above the high street. Prices start from £599,995. Call 020 3675 9955 for further information.
Croydon cleans up
The production of concrete is responsible for eight per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and yet the housebuilding industry and government “ignore” the impact of construction on climate change, says Chris Brown, founder of sustainable developer Igloo.
“We must look at the carbon produced over the whole lifespan of a building from construction to demolition, not just when it is being lived in,” he adds.
Andy Downey of structural and civil engineering company Elliott Wood cites the use of natural materials over concrete and steel where possible, such as timber frames in non-flammable cladding.
Assembling modular homes in factories also cuts carbon emissions. “We are starting to see more modular and off-site construction being used to supplement traditional methods. It cuts down on construction time which means fewer lorries going to and from site,” says Laura Puertollano Tracey of CBRE.
The world’s tallest modular tower, George Street, a 44-storey build-to-rent block, is going up near East Croydon station.
Meanwhile, Brick by Brick, the development arm of Croydon council, is selling new homes in timber-frame, brick-clad schemes.
Auckland Rise in Upper Norwood also has a green roof, solar panels, e-car charging and bike spaces. Prices start from £300,000, or £75,000 for 25 per cent shared ownership. Call 020 8168 0157.
Chris Brown suggests each new building should come with a certificate stating what materials it is made of.
Andy Downey agrees: “Purchasers and renters need to start asking awkward questions about the credentials of the properties that they invest so much money in.”
Rewilding has made Ealing an eco winner
Ealing council tops the eco charts by increasing its biodiversity.
Led by park ranger Vanessa Hampton, wildflowers and long grass are being grown, attracting voles and field mice, which in turn are attracting owls.
Nesting boxes have been distributed to house Tawny, Barn and Little Owls.
One West Point, where prices start at £475,000
The £1 million council-led Greenford-Gurnell Greenway project will improve 44 acres of parkland between Greenford town centre and Gurnell Leisure Centre and open up the River Brent towpath.
Reed beds, wetlands, meadows, woodland and orchards naturally filter air, reduce flood risk and improve water quality.
Ealing also scores highly for recycling. It recycles half its household waste and aims to reach two thirds over the next few years.
“All the food waste we collect is converted into electricity for homes and fertiliser for farms,” says a spokesman.
The developer City & Docklands is cleaning up the canals around Scrubs Lane while building the tallest residential tower in west London.
One West Point comprises four buildings and the tallest at 47 floors overlooks Ealing’s many parks. Prices from £475,000. Call 020 3907 8801.