Reef and Rainforest

Eco Sustainability: What this means for real estate.

26-Mar-2021
Written by Jade Kilpatrick

Eco Sustainability: What this means for real estate.



Most would agree that our focus on the environment has grown considerably in the past couple of decades. In a recent survey led by Southern Cross University which investigated how Australians (and Americans) engaged with the environment, out of 913 participants, 93% indicated it as being a real concern.

100 million people are affected by pollution each year which is comparable to an epidemic. Nearly every seabird on earth consumes plastic and our oceans continue to be polluted at an alarming rate.

Living in Cairns, we are blessed to have the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep. Not only is this a natural wonder, it is also a vital part of our ecosystem. We care about what happens to the planet but the Reef in particular, is a daily reminder that we need to do all we can to preserve it.

Whilst tourism and hospitality rely heavily on the Reef being a popular ‘bucket list’ destination, it also makes it an attractive place to live, and therefore, the perfect place to invest in real estate.

Purchasing a home which lends to a small ecofootprint and sustainable lifestyle, makes for a more attractive investment prospective for landlords, as well as those wanting to live here permanently. The rise in popularity of Airbnb has also led to people buying for holiday let opportunities which can command a lucrative income.

What makes a property environmentally friendly?

There are some obvious items which make a property more environmentally friendly, such as solar power, but whether you are selling your home, or are an eco-conscious investor, there are certain other considerations that you should have at the forefront of your mind when seeking an ecofriendly home.

Energy efficiency

As technology advances, so too does the need to include solutions that minimise the negative impact on the planet, as well as our pockets. Electricity prices are far from low but with a Tesla Power Wall unit, you can now store energy for off-grid energy consumption, which is particularly useful if you live completely off-grid. Even if you don’t, it still means you can enjoy cheaper prices, not to mention being able to have electricity available during blackouts, which in our region, are a typical seasonal occurrence.

Energy-efficient glass is also a popular choice. By insulating your home in this way, you will need to rely less on air conditioning (and therefore electricity) to cool it down. The same applies to roof insulation which prevents your home from warming up like an oven during the day.

Speaking of air conditioning, modern-day units are far more energy-efficient than they used to be. If you’re selling your home, then replacing old units with modern, eco-rated versions will go a long way to appealing to eco-conscious buyers. Conversely, if you’re buying, make sure you check the types of units installed.

Rainwater Tanks

As with solar panels, rainwater tanks can also save you money and benefit the environment. By harvesting rain, runoff into stormwater drains will be less, meaning reduced damage to the environment, which according to Rain Harvesting, can cause harm to creeks and other water habitats. Given the amount of water that we enjoy during the wet season, we recommend that investors look for a property with rainwater tanks, particularly in the more rural locations.

Water pumps are another eco-friendly feature which can be added to your real estate investment in Cairns. Powered by solar energy, the pumps have zero reliance on the grid. This means that power grids or fossil fuels used to pump water from the ground are no longer required.

With the Cairns region being rich in land and opportunities for purchasing property in rural areas such as the Atherton Tablelands, Daintree Rainforest, and further up the Cape, a solar-powered water pump is an attractive feature for many reasons. You can find out more about them here.

Sustainable Gardening

Planting natives in your yard is something that most of us like to do to achieve a healthy, biodiverse environment but there is more you can do to minimise your ecofootprint. You’ll find a wealth of information on the Cairns Regional Council website to assist with selecting and planting the best native trees to suit your environment, whilst knowing which introduced species should be removed. This is particularly helpful for investors who aren’t familiar with the flora and fauna in our region. Remember the rainwater tanks? Don’t forget that you can use water from these for your garden to keep it healthy all year round, even in the dry season.

Plant a vegetable patch! This will contribute towards lowering your grocery spend but you will also know exactly what insecticides have been used. It’s also a great way to educate your family and will appeal to tenants who value the environment and share your vision to do ‘their bit’ to assist. COVID-19 also reminded us that we can’t always rely on being able to have access to fresh fruit and vegetables so being able to have a sustainable option, is useful from that perspective too.

Keeping your office green

It’s important to remember that, as the aim of doing all we can to look after the environment becomes an expectation, more than ideation, we can bring what we know into the workplace.

Did you know that plants in the office can remove toxic chemicals from the air and actually make people feel better? In offices, tests have shown that having plants around keep people more alert and productive, whilst reducing the number of sick days. You can learn more here.

As well as introducing solar energy, you can also take steps to make more environmentally conscious choices when it comes to cleaning products by choosing marine-friendly options.

At Freemans, we have a ban on single-use plastics and work hard to do our bit to minimise our impact on the environment.

So if you’re looking to buy or sell commercial real estate, or you simply want to educate your team, keep in mind that a smarter choice, can be a more environmentally friendly choice if you know what to look for.

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