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Sustainable development – separating fact from hyp

As we move further into the decade, sustainability becomes an ever bigger buzz word, with everyone suddenly jumping on the bandwagon and keen to impress with their ‘green’ credentials. We’ve seen it all before, with the environment and other issues, and as always not everything is exactly as it seems. Many a company, businessperson or organisation is keen to extoll its environmental commitment and gain the goodwill and marketing value this brings with it, but increasingly the public are a little sceptical, and it’s not a bad thing that they take some convincing.

Ads on television are a prime indicator of this kind of sentiment, and here on the Costa del Sol we’re also being bombarded with all the good intentions of developers and constructors. I’m not saying that these are not sincere – many people in the industry have been championing a more sustainable way of developing for years – but in reality we’re still far from true sustainability and zero impact, both here and abroad.

Those projects, architects and developers who can really convincingly and unambiguously boast that they are fully or near-fully sustainable in the way they work and build are few and far between, and yes, the criteria to succeed in this are not only hard to comply with but can also be complicated and even confusing. You see, there still isn’t much real clarity about the parameters, and with no universal quality seal to be measured against, those who are serious opt for the few alternatives available.

BREEAM and Passive House

The two main standards available to developers on the Costa del Sol are BREEAM and Passive House, both of which are maybe not the final, all-encompassing solution, yet they are a significant step in the right direction. A project that earns the epithet of either of these international organisations can be rightly proud, and after the first pioneers who did so the trend is picking up, even if it entails greater costs, complexity and timelines on the part of the developer. However, buyers are slowly but surely beginning to make sustainability one of their tick list items, so the market is maturing on both sides.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environment Assessment Method) is just that – a sustainability assessment method that sets a whole range of criteria for projects to follow and then assesses to what degree this has been done successfully. If all is good, the developer in question will receive BREEAM certification, which it can boast of loud and clear. First developed in the 1990s, this British-based system remains one of the most prestigious and commonly used routes for developers who wish to aim for sustainability.

The Passive House Institute has its origins in Germany, and focuses (in typical German fashion) on the efficiency of a building in terms of energy usage/wastage, air circulation and other factors that influence thermal ranges and the accompanying health, energy consumption and pollution factors. It too applies to single home projects as well as large-scale masterplan ones, and we’ve seen both kinds on the Costa del Sol, where it is gratifying to see that more and more developers are keen to embrace the new green trend.

Contact Fabian and the team at Move Project if you would like to know more about sustainable property development in Marbella and the Costa del Sol.