THE vast majority of British people, some 78 per cent, believe the environmental credentials of a building are vital when choosing a new home, research reveals.

The biggest number is in London where 81 per cent think the long-term environmental and sustainable performance of a new home is important, compared with 68 per cent in Sheffield, the study from residential warranty specialist BLP Insurance found.

When asked about environmental features, almost a quarter of participants ranked energy-efficient heating and hot water systems as their top priority if they were choosing a new home, followed by double glazing and solar panels.

Environmentally-friendly fittings were seen as the main advantage of buying a new-build home over an older property.

The research also highlights the slow uptake of smart meters with only five per cent of respondents viewing this feature as important. The popularity of the technology varied among different generations, with 10 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds, compared to two per cent of over 55s citing smart meters as a significant addition to their new home.

New Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) introduced in April this year and coming into force in April 2019 have drawn even more attention to the energy efficiency of properties. Landlords could face penalties if they fail to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least an E.

“As people become increasingly concerned about environmental issues, demand for environmentally-sustainable features for new homes will continue to grow,” said Kim Vernau, chief executive officer of BLP Insurance.

“Initiatives such as the Energy Efficient Mortgages Action Plan (EeMAP) will help finance an increase in sustainable homes by incentivising building owners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties or acquire already efficient buildings.”

He added: “It’s not just buyers but prospective tenants that are more alert to sustainability. With more detailed and transparent data now available to consumers at all levels, and new energy standards being implemented, landlords and developers will need to adapt, taking steps to improve the efficiency of properties in the market.”