Bright Green Futures has evolved from two basic questions:
- What does a sustainable future look like?
- What can we do to help create it?
Based on the science, we consider climate change to be the most challenging problem facing the world today. After decades of academic research into the solutions to climate change we have come to the conclusion that our role is to empower people to choose to live more sustainably and to develop innovative solutions to help them do so.
Solving climate change and other problems does not have to mean making sacrifices. With some clear and creative thinking we can develop solutions which both make us happier and solve our global crises.
Setting up Bright Green Futures is one of the ways through which we can help develop a brighter and greener future.
The two pillars of creating the bright green future we all deserve are: socio-economic (people) factors and environmental (planet) factors.
People are the key to success in creating bright green futures. People make choices; vote for politicians; campaign and people can contribute towards creating a better environment, society and economy.
Recent research shows that there is a direct link between wellbeing and the following:
- housing satisfaction
- neighbourhood environment and neighbourliness
- sense of community/place
- doing well in life
- feeling useful, valued and empowered
- being able to contribute, having meaningful, rewarding work (paid or voluntary).
Bright Green Futures’ developments aim to surpass conventional housing in all these areas. It gives choice and empowers people to create their dream homes and contribute to their communities and the planet. It helps people to do well in life, get on the housing ladder and achieve something special. At the Ashley Vale site several self-builders continue to work in the industry, working for themselves in the construction trade or as sustainability consultants. Their networks and understanding of sustainability sets them apart and grew from their eco-community self-build.
Bright Green Futures homes are designed and constructed to withstand the impacts of future climate change and rising energy prices. This means that they are likely to increase in value faster than their conventional counterparts. Designing and building your own home also teaches key skills to meet the challenges of a changing world.
Staff, supporters and contractors
We also enable the people who work for us to generate an income from meaningful and rewarding work. We provide training and information that points people to avenues through which they can get involved in other rewarding activities.
Outreach to the existing community
Bright Green Futures developments are designed to benefit existing neighbouring communities. In consultation with the existing residents and organisations we design the development in a way that is most appropriate for them too.
Our main environmental target is to become climate positive. This means that our activity should have an overall positive impact upon the world’s climate system. We plan to seek accreditation for this with Eformic.
The following pillars of our environmental strategy feed into meeting this target and driving sustainability in general:
Energy efficient design
We use energy efficient design to maximise natural lighting and heating, provide good air quality, reduce energy bills, avoid draughts and create thermal indoor environmental comfort.
We use renewable energy sources such as a woodstove, solar hot water or a heat pump with underfloor heating to further reduce your bills, cut carbon emissions and create a healthy indoor environment.
Our primary aim for creating sustainable transport solutions is to reduce your need to travel. Building or designing your own home means that you can design in work spaces if you wish to work or partially work from home and ensures these spaces serve your work needs. Living in a Bright Green Futures development further reduces your desire to escape at weekends, when you can have such a good time and social life at home. Pedestrian and cycle-friendly streets, as well as access to e-bike and car-share schemes further cut down on transport emissions.
Local and sustainable materials
We choose building materials with low embodied carbon and low overall environmental impact. This includes the use of timber and other natural and sustainable building materials where possible, minimizing the use of concrete and harmful chemicals, sourcing materials locally where possible, and using reclaimed materials. Sourcing materials locally also supports the local economy.
Local and sustainable food
Food is one of the biggest and most neglected contributors to climate change. Reducing our environmental footprint should not stop at designing sustainable homes, but needs to be widened to consider every aspect of our lives and communities. Fruit trees and food grow spaces are integrated into BGF communities alongside weekly food stalls where local, low carbon and organic food is sold.
We include measures to save on water bills and to reduce water consumption and harvest rainwater. These include rainwater butts, flow regulators, European high-quality aerating spray taps and low dual-flush toilets.
We include community recycling facilities and reduce waste on-site at every stage. For example, with Ashley Vale, construction waste was minimal as self-builders reclaimed each other’s waste to save money and reduce impacts. A derelict freight container has a beautiful wildlife resort and herb garden on its roof and community recycling store inside. This avoids having ugly wheelie bins and recycling bins outside the homes and makes separating and storing waste for recycling easy. In the picture below you can see the roof of the recycling shed of the Ashley Vale site, hiding the waste in an aesthetic and nature-friendly way.
Ecology and Beauty
We support ecology and biodiversity through creating beautiful green spaces and green roofs. We use the most sustainable building materials and suppliers, for example, using reclaimed materials and timber from sustainable sources. We donate 5% of our profits to projects that support poor people in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making ecological improvements.
Monitoring, learning and reporting
We will continuously monitor our progress and quantify the carbon emissions, water use and waste that result from our activity. We endeavour to learn lessons so that we can continuously reduce our environmental impact and to share the data and lessons openly and proactively so that others may learn too.