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    How to reduce your carbon footprint when renovating a property

    Climate change is one of the biggest threats currently facing mankind. Driven by the increase in human activity since the Industrial Revolution, its existence is impossible to deny in the light of rising sea temperatures, flooding of coastal areas and extreme weather conditions. 

    It’s easy to feel helpless when climate prophets forecast an environmental Armageddon, but if every individual takes steps to reduce their carbon footprint – that is, the amount of greenhouse gases released by their actions – it can make a big difference to the overall picture.

    And for the investor looking to flip a property, the good news is that taking action to check your carbon footprint can also make good economic, as well as environmental, sense.

    Don’t Innovate – Renovate

    Rather than automatically gutting your apartment and starting afresh, consider what unique features might be worth keeping. Of course, some fittings may be beyond repair, but original fireplaces, windows, doors or floorboards may only need to be stripped back or repainted to add a distinctive charm to the property you are planning to flip.

    Not only will you be helping the environment by reducing landfill waste and saving the raw materials, energy and transportation required to manufacture new products, buyers may also find your individual renovation more attractive than a blandly generic interior.

    Recycled, Not Refuse

    When clearing the apartment or garden, do your research into local waste management and recycling companies to provide circular economy solutions. For example, the components of old plasterboard (banned from landfill sites since 2017) can be recovered and reconstituted to manufacture a brand new product, as can discarded wood from household fittings, unwanted furniture, or packing cases. 

    Chris Howard, Managing Director of Countrystyle Recycling in Kent also advises, “Converting horticultural waste from the garden to make organic compost, or even generate electricity, not only puts it to good environmental use but also reduces the level of methane (the second most damaging greenhouse gas) it would produce if it were just dumped in landfill.”

    Check Out Recycled Content

    As well as recycling waste from your apartment purchase, check out the Recycled Content (RC) of the materials used in your renovation. The construction of the London Olympics site was achieved with more than 20% RC, and this can easily be exceeded by the careful selection of materials, such as concrete pipes and drains made from Recycled Crushed Aggregate (over 60% RC), recycled plastic drain or soil pipes (50-100% RC) or decking constructed using ‘plastic lumber’ which closely resembles timber (100% RC).

    If you can’t source enough recycled components, try to use natural materials that are responsibly sourced and/or have little environmental impact, such as straw bales, geo-textiles made from crops and concrete reinforced with natural fibres like bamboo.

    Support Your Local Tradesmen

    Rather than use a large national company that is based miles from your apartment, whose staff will have to drive to the site every day, why not employ a local firm? Not only will they be using less fossil fuel in the form of petrol or diesel, but with lower costs and a local reputation to maintain, they’ll probably be cheaper and more accountable, plus you’ll have the additional satisfaction of investing in the area’s economy.


    To find a local tradesman, use a reputable website, whose members undergo strict background checks and must agree to allow clients to post honest reviews before receiving a listing.

    Landlords Now Have Until 2022 to Apply for the Green Homes Grant

    Use Green Plant Equipment

    The building and construction trade has long been held responsible for a large proportion of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. But as concerns about the problem of pollution caused by construction have grown, a number of manufacturers in the industry have invested in finding a solution.


    Time taken for research on the Internet should pay dividends in locating the most environmentally friendly tools and energy-efficient equipment for your job. Also, consider whether you really need to buy new, with all the manufacturing and transport resources this uses. Would a second-hand, reconditioned model serve you just as well, or perhaps you could simply rent?

    Clean Up Your Act

    Don’t forget to use environmentally-friendly products when you give your apartment a final clean before putting it on the market. Not only are their ingredients less harmful to humans, animals and the environment, but they come in ecologically sound packaging. And if you really want to go green, check out traditional methods of cleaning using everyday substances like vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda, which are both effective AND cheap!

    In Conclusion

    The building industry has traditionally had a bad reputation when it comes to taking care of the environment. However, according to a report by The Empty Homes Agency, buying and refurbishing an existing property emits just 15 tonnes of CO2 gas, compared to 50 tonnes of CO2 generated by building a brand new house from scratch, after which there was little difference between the two in terms of daily energy emissions. So it’s clear that the former is the ‘cleaner’ course of action. 


    Add to that a sympathetic renovation that incorporates as many environmentally-friendly practices as is reasonably possible and the result is a property that a developer can truly be proud of.

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