When Toyota launched its eco-friendly Prius car, Hollywood A-listers including Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio clamoured to be seen driving the green machine.
Now developer FABRICA is hoping to set a similar pioneering trend in the homes market as they launch Elmsbrook this month, the first true large-scale zero-carbon residential development in the UK, on the outskirts of Bicester in Oxfordshire.
Architects Farrells has a reputation for blazing a sustainability trail and their work on Elmsbrook has won it a global award for eco efficiency and sustainable living.
“With Elmsbrook, we are anticipating the future of house building. The technology that we are implementing might appear cutting edge today, but eventually this will become the norm and we anticipate that everyone will be living eco consciously,” explains Sir Terry Farrell, partner at Farrells.
So while it may please you to learn that the 393 homes will be built with zero waste to landfill, developed with 30 per cent less carbon than a typical building and with sustainable materials, or that rainwater harvesting will reduce your water use, while solar roof panels and triple-glazing will make them super-energy efficient, the burning question is still: will you want to live there?
What will probably sell the homes to most people – aside from the smaller bills and smug conscience – will be the idyllic countryside, on the edge of the Cotswolds, where Soho House is about to open a new outpost this month, and the Cornbury music festival will be on your doorstep.
The homes themselves will be sleek, modern and feature hotel style bathrooms, Siemens kitchens, ridiculously fast broadband (100mb per second), and an energy-tracking tablet in each home, that will tell you everything from how much energy you are using to when the next bus is due. Your garage will come with a green meadow roof.
It doesn’t end with the houses – a new primary school, nursery, community hall, shops, cafes, business centre and even an eco-pub are all part of the plans.
As Rosie Nesbitt, group director sales and marketing at FABRICA comments: “While the eco-credentials inherent to Elmsbrook will appeal to eco-conscious purchasers – indeed, the electric car charging points will power a Prius – the houses have been designed to offer hassle-free, environmentally friendly homes for those who are simply looking for an attractive setting in which to purchase their first property, bring up a family or enjoy their retirement.”
Perhaps the best part of the plan is what the developer isn’t doing: 40 per cent of the land will be left as green space – think communal orchard, allotments, and children’s play areas – with “wildlife” corridors running through the development.
A neighbourhood with herb boxes on every street and an electric car club? We could certainly live with that.
Prices from £295,000, www.Elmsbrook.co.uk