Founder, Steffie, tells Self Build & Design Magazine about her roots and how they inspired her to follow a career in sustainability before going on to create Bright Green Futures. Steffie says that she continues a family line of engineers developing sustainable solutions in design and construction. She goes on to talk about what Bright Green Futures has to offer and the benefits of living in a community.
Steffie Broer draws on first-hand experience of working on and living in a self-build eco community, the Ashley Vale development, to discuss the benefits of such a scheme. The article demonstrates that residents are able to lead sustainable lifestyles as part of like-minded communities that support each other and share common goals. It also shows that energy efficient homes reduce carbon emissions and in turn, living costs. Further, homeowners are likely to expect uplift in the value of their property, with most homes in Ashley Vale now valued at two to three times the initial plot and building costs. Steffie Broer goes on to answer key questions outlining the pleasures and pitfalls of the Ashley Vale project and the role of self-build eco communities in meeting UK housing demand.
“Enabling low carbon living in UK housing developments” is an academic paper by Steffie Broer and Helena Titheridge that won the best conference paper award at the Second International Conference on Whole Life Urban Sustainability and its Assessment. The paper shows that a building designed to the government’s zero carbon homes definition will only reduce the resident’s overall carbon footprint by about 11% spending about £20 to £40k per home on renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in addition to convetional house building costs. With the low carbon living approach which Bright Green Futures uses we also reduce emissions through the choice of building materials, and through making low carbon living easy. With a fraction of the above costs we achieve greater emission reductions and additional benefits for the residents. If you’d like to know more click on the title for the full paper.
“Self-build as a volume housing solution” is a report by NaSBA describing the self-build market and a number of eco-friendly self-build housing developments.
In April 2018, Bright Green Futures posted a response to proposed policy changes regarding self-build accommodation in Bristol City Council’s Local Plan review. As part of consultation on the Local Plan, Bright Green Futures is engaging with the Council to help shape policy and enable eco self-build communities across the city. Read on to see Bright Green Futures’ recommendations and discover how we could see more diverse and sustainable housing in the UK.
The GoWell Research on Regeneration and Positive Mental Health shows the link between wellbeing, empowerment, community spirit and housing provision. It clearly demonstrates how the Bright Green Futures’ approach generates wellbeing and has a knock-on effect in terms of fostering the social capital of people choosing to contribute to society themselves.
Ask Green Jeeves is an article Steffie wrote based on her research that showed that there are many simple solutions to climate change in new housing development: so simple that they are often overlooked by policy makers who largely focus on technical solutions only.
Renewable energy lessons from Austria is a talk Steffie gave at the Think 08 conference (sustainability and the build environment) comparing the commercial and regulatory environment for renewables in the UK and Austria. The talk was based on a renewable energy study tour to Austria which Steffie organised, visiting community-owned renewable energy schemes. This publication is based on her talk.
The Story of the Yard: Building a Community tells the story of self-builders of the Ashley Vale community. It is a beautiful book written by one of its residents: Carrie Hitchcock. Great reading for anyone who would like to self-build or simply feel part of the journey or enjoy great photography.
Forming the foundations of Bright Green Futures’ sustainable approach to creating eco self-build communities, director Steffie Broer’s doctoral thesis identified alternative ways in which UK housing developments could contribute to achieving 80% carbon savings in the UK by 2050. The research found that carbon reductions could be achieved at much lower costs through an approach, which enables sustainable lifestyles, rather than one that purely focuses on technical measures. Wider sustainability analysis showed additional social and economic benefits from many of the lifestyles measures. It concluded that there is a specific opportunity to incorporate sustainable lifestyles into eco self-build communities.
“Eco self-build housing communities: Are they feasible and can they lead to sustainable and low carbon lifestyles?” is another academic paper Steffie wrote to summarise her research into the Bright Green Futures business model. We nearly did not find a publisher, because we were told that business models never get published as companies do not want to give their IP away, hence there are no publishers who specialise in this. We told the publishers that this does not apply to us as we are active contributors to a growing global generosity society. In the end we found a publisher who wanted to support us and offered to make an exception. Not only that, we particularly like this publisher as it is an open access publisher and hence the electronic copy of our publication is freely accessible to the public on the internet. Of course we love to give our business model away as we wish make empowering self-build communities accessible to as many people as possible. So if you’d like to set up your own community without direct involvement of Bright Green Futures, this publication could be a valuable read.