Awareness of the climate emergency is often associated with the younger – or future – generations. Yet the Office for National Statistics predicts that in 50 years there will be an additional 8.2 million people aged 65 years or above – a population roughly the same as that of London.1 And engaging this population in the fight against climate change is critical.
At Legal & General, we recognise that we have a responsibility to build a better future for everyone, which is why our later-living business, Inspired Villages, is building the UK’s first net zero retirement community.
The Millfield Green development in Bedfordshire will provide 200 homes using The Kensa Group ground-source heat pumps, in which Legal & General has a 36 per cent stake and which, when used as a full system, eliminates the requirement for fossil fuels in the community’s operation.
Tackling the climate crisis is often associated with the younger generation. Icons of the next generation, like 18-year-old Greta Thunberg, have been partly responsible for swarms of schoolchildren and young adults taking to the streets to protest against ponderous inaction on tackling the climate crisis. But then there’s also David Attenborough, the 94-year-old broadcaster and natural historian, who took to the Glastonbury stage in 2019 to thank attendees for cutting their plastic use, reminding us that every person in society, no matter their age, has a role to play in the sustainability of our planet.
We believe that the older demographic is just as concerned about the climate crisis and the impact it will have on future generations.
“Senior living is a growing sector that will bring many new homes to the market over the next 10 years as the demand increases. We are therefore happy to be leading the drive towards net zero in this sector,” explains Dean Bower, Development Manager at Inspired Villages.
A survey undertaken by Inspired Villages of over 700 people demonstrated that, for over 80 per cent, environmental features would have some importance when purchasing a new home. “We believe that the older demographic is just as concerned about the climate crisis and the impact it will have on future generations,” says Bower. “People are becoming more and more aware of climate change. Many of our current residents are keen on sustainability and the green agenda, and early interest at Millfield Green is supporting this view.”
Millfield Green, which is in its first phase of development and will be ready to welcome residents into its first 86 homes in early 2023, might be the first net zero retirement community under Inspired Villages’ name, but Bower is hopeful it won’t be the last. “Fundamentally, developing a net zero retirement community is the right thing to do. It takes a lot more capital to fund a project like this, but taking a ‘patient pound’ approach with Legal & General means we can take a longer view on the benefits of a low carbon village that traditional developers probably can’t.”
In line with Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets’ commitment to removing carbon emissions from its real-estate portfolio by 2050 or sooner, and for new homes to operate at net zero by 2030 (you can read more about these initiatives in our Net zero carbon roadmap), Inspired Villages will be determining whether low-carbon solutions can be achieved for its forthcoming pipeline of retirement villages. Bower concludes: “We are starting with net zero carbon regulated energy as a stepping stone to our aspiration of net zero carbon in line with Legal & General’s roadmap.”