The great British city – which is the most future-forward and eco-friendly?


Edinburgh in Scotland has emerged as the most ‘future-forward city in the UK based on eco-friendliness of homes and sustainability of lifestyles.

Living, working or visiting, sustainability issues are unlikely to have been at the top of most people’s locational considerations given the pace and requirements of today’s lifestyles. But that may be about to change.

With the transformations that are being demanded in the global decarbonisation drive – the IEA in its new net zero by 2050 pathway devotes a whole section to suggested behavioural changes alongside other proposals – the ‘eco’ lifestyle is set to shift from a minority to a majority pursuit.

Benchmarking, experience and lessons and the locations that are leading and lagging all become of interest. As part of its ‘Home improvement trends’ study, the UK online tradesperson marketplace Rated People has shed some light on the situation in that country.

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The UK cities were scored against a set of 34 ‘eco criteria’ – 20 of them relating to the eco-friendliness of homes and the other 14 connected to sustainable ways of living.

After Edinburgh, Plymouth in the west country emerged as second most future forward city with Norwich in East Anglia in third place and Southampton closely following in fourth.

Other findings from the survey were that demand for eco-friendly home improvement jobs had increased by a massive 41% in the run-up to 2021 and more than half of the residents said they wanted to find ways to be more eco-friendly in the future, indicating a strong appetite and potential for future energy efficient improvements.

Energy efficient homes

When it comes to energy efficient and eco-friendly homes, Norwich emerged in top spot, closely followed by Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

The assessment was based on the set of 20 ‘eco home criteria’, ranging from smart heating controls and energy efficient lightbulbs to EV charging points, smart meters and heat pumps.

In terms of individual eco improvements, homes in Glasgow are the most likely in the UK to be double glazed, with almost three-quarters fitted out with this upgrade.

Cardiff topped the ranking of homes with extra insulation, with 38% having it installed, while Edinburgh has the highest proportion of smart meters on 35%.

While many homes have common measures like insulation and double glazing, so far only a small percentage have the emerging technologies such as heat pumps, biomass boilers and EVs, the study highlighted.

Among these Liverpool is the top city for heat pumps with 5% of homes having them, while Newcastle has a similar percentage with biomass boilers. Belfast was the top city for EVs in 6% of driveways.

“We often hear about the need to be kind to the planet and make eco-friendly choices. As well as lifestyle changes, one of the biggest ways we can have a positive impact is by making sure our homes are as eco-friendly and energy efficient as possible,” commented Adrienne Minster, CEO at Rated People, on the findings.

“That doesn’t mean we all need to build grand designs-style eco-homes though – there are lots of easy ways to increase your home’s eco-credentials without spending a fortune, like installing a smart meter, using smart heating controls or upgrading some of the appliances to more energy efficient models.”

Edinburgh’s ranking as the most future-forward city in the UK reflects its high scores for both eco-friendly homes and a sustainable lifestyle. As an example, the city has been a pioneer in the use of ground source heat pumps and new research from the charity Greenspace Scotland suggests the technology has the potential to supply over 40% of the city’s heat demand.

While Norwich is top ranked for the most eco-friendly homes, it is Plymouth that emerges as offering the most environmentally friendly lifestyles with activities including recycling, using environmentally friendly products and less plastic – this latter claimed by three-quarters of the respondents.

The study was based on analysis of over half a million jobs posted on Rated People during the past two years and a survey of 2,000 UK residents.

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