I recently had the very welcome opportunity to speak and network at the ‘Right on Site’ events organised by Homebond. Whilst primarily technical events for the building community, we were asked to discuss some of the emerging trends in the energy market in context of home building. For us at Pinergy it gave us a great opportunity to emphasise how it is important that developers consider the current and future energy needs of home buyers.
Moving beyond Part L
Much of the focus today in the development community is to meet the “Park L” regulations which focus on improving energy performance and reducing carbon emissions from new builds. However, these regulations are just a small part of European and Irish Energy policy, all designed to increase the amount of renewable generated energy, reduce emissions and improve overall energy efficiency.
The 2020 milestone
Conversation in the energy sector today is often about the 2020 targets and will Ireland be fined for non-compliance. The answer is probably yes, and the problem areas are going to be heat, transport and the Agri sector. Increased “Electrification” of heat and transport together with the mitigation of carbon in the Agri sector (among others) will create a huge demand for electricity.
Upgrading the electricity highway
We believe that the Electricity Grid in Ireland will need to be significantly upgraded to meet the changes and advances in technology and distributed generation. (Think of the impact of the upgrade to Motorways over the last 15 years.) Why? because a modern Grid needs to be able to meet the needs of new customers, with more devices, more technology and increased use of electricity to heat our homes, cook and move around the country, whilst also facilitating increased renewable energy.
The emergence of Prosumers
The requirements of customers will change in terms of how they engage with energy. Customers of the future will be “Prosumers” who will be able to both buy from and sell electricity to the Grid if they generate excess electricity for their needs. A real open market. However, we are not there yet, although progress is being made.
Future Home Buyers
We are living in what many are calling the digital age, and I can see that home buyers of the future will be looking for a more connected, smart and environmentally responsible home. In the not too distant future, home buyers will as standard want Electric Vehicle (EV) charging facilities, the ability to store energy in their home to allow them to use it when required and to be micro-generators of electricity (for example Solar PV) for heating needs.
What should developers be doing?
Property developers need to be anticipating the needs of their future customers and looking to meet their needs now. Both builders and energy companies need to be collaborating now to meet these future needs. Whilst there is an excess of demand oversupply in housing today, this will not always be the case. Quality, energy-efficient builds, capable of meeting both today and tomorrow’s energy needs, will be the choice of discerning consumers. I think the developers and energy companies who make this happen will be successful in the long run in attracting future home buyers.