When we think of luxury, we often think of rare and beautiful materials, decorations, and elaborate features involving lighting and water, for example.
Luxury has always been synonymous with scarcity, but what’s becoming increasingly apparent is that energy is scarce, and we must all work together to ensure our finite energy resources are used wisely.
This is beginning to trickle down to the luxury segment.
While luxury buyers’ traditional focus has normally been on location, design and detailing, more and more buyers and investors now have sustainability at the top of their list.
We’ve moved on from an era where people couched property sustainability purely in terms of cost savings on energy, to a time where people genuinely want to feel like they are making a positive contribution to the planet.
And, of course, luxury property is most often purchased as an investment. People need to be reassured that their investment will stand the test of time.
We are certainly already seeing the inclusion of smart home technology in a wide range of properties, from air conditioning and heating controls to window blinds and lighting controls. Items such as electric car charging points are becoming increasingly common as we move towards a world where motoring becomes carbon neutral.
Luxury property investors have come to expect such details, and the convergence of luxury and technology is a fascinating space. Future-proofing a luxury property makes it more appealing to savvy investors, who understand that technology dates quickly but sustainable choices last.
An intelligent homebuyer in the next decade will try to ensure a property on their purchase radar exceeds current sustainability thinking–as sustainability becomes increasingly codified into building regulations. Design thinking is also shifting more towards sustainability.
But it goes deeper. I believe we will see more and more recycled products used in the construction of luxury homes as more consideration is given to the lifespan of products such as lighting, kitchen, and bathroom fittings.
If you have a property beside a body of water, you’re more likely to see an electric craft on the water. A property in colder climes will feature state-of-the-art insulation and smart heating controls.
It’s interesting that hundreds of years ago it was simply practical to use local materials in construction; now it’s becoming an environmental imperative. Expect buildings to be constructed using what is available locally and what materials can be produced by recycling.
We are even seeing a rise in the number of 3D-printed housing – which can, of course, be ‘printed’ using sustainable materials.
The new generation of buyers–millennials and Gen Z–are far more eco-conscious than every generation before them, and those wishing to buy will check the eco-credentials of a property before committing.
Inside a property, of course, owners can do as they wish, but I think it’s important to create a stronger sense – especially in the luxury market – that if a building is built sustainably, it should stay that way. You shouldn’t knock down walls or completely remodel the interior of a property to suit your needs if that means you’re damaging the building’s environmental credentials.
And there’s some irony in purchasing a sustainable property only to fill it full of unsustainable items. We are certainly moving into a more mindful era – and that can only be for the good.
One route to be aware of could be the introduction of a “carbon tax” on the property–again, something savvy investors would want to avoid–but it is a concept being discussed in many ESG circles. But wise governments are acutely aware that such a tax wouldn’t necessarily raise a great deal of funds and would also push HNWIs (ultra-high-net-worth individuals) to other markets.
What impresses potential buyers today is not only the size and scope of a property but its environmental credentials. If you are in the market for a luxury property, you need to ensure it is future-proof. And as we move into ever more sustainable times, luxury and sustainability must surely go hand in hand.