We’re kicking of this new quarter with the first in a series of articles that will be centred around sustainability in Repairs and Maintenance for property management companies and contractors. In this series, we’re going to take a look at Urbanisation, Food Waste, Energy Efficiency and sustainability in Repairs and Maintenance in general. In this first article we dive into Urbanisation – specifically sustainability in outdoor spaces.
The UN have reported that by 2050 68% of the world’s population will live in an urban area. Today that figure sits at around 55% of the population. In terms of the United Kingdom, from 2011 to 2015, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) reported a 2.9% increase in the population of major cities, with Greater London seeing a 5.7% increase and Glasgow at the lower end with a 1% increase.
These trends in urbanisation means that outdoor space is premium and must be protected, included or developed. The pandemic has shown how important it is for us to be able to get outside and enjoy greenery and nature.
And for property management companies and contractors, managing communal outdoor areas already is and could become an even more important aspect of the working day.
But is a green space always a sustainable space? And in terms of repairing and maintaining green/outdoor spaces, is this always carried out with sustainability in mind? We’re going to illustrate with an example of what an unsustainable outdoor space would like look and then we’re going to transform that space into a sustainable, healthy space.
Unsustainable outdoor spaces
Whether it’s a nice garden area, a play park or greenspace as part of a residential building or larger estate, outdoor areas and green spaces are vital for human beings to have a happy, healthy homelife. And of course, for communal, shared spaces repairing and maintaining them is crucial.
But not all outdoor spaces are created equal. And not all outdoor spaces could be considered sustainable.
Take for example, your typical Scottish tenement, which might be in a city centre or on the outskirts of the city. Many back gardens and communal outdoor spaces are far from green spaces. They are slabbed areas, most likely with weeds popping up between the gaps like unwanted guests at a wedding.
There may be a few washing line poles and, if the residents are lucky, a few benches to sit on or maybe even a plant pot with something that resembles a plant.
How can a property management company make this a sustainable space?
Of course, property management companies absolutely have the ability to suggest changes be made to the outdoor areas. And what better reason than to provide an area that can be enjoyed by clients – and one that contributes to their mental health and the health of the air quality and the environment.
What would this space look like if it was a sustainable space?
Instead of going to the time and expense of ripping up slabs, a raised platform could be added using reclaimed wood or reclaimed railway sleepers.
The platform could be a space for grass, wildflowers or even a veg garden – or if big enough, a mix of these. This would allow for biodiversity to be introduced into the space – much needed urban colour, flowers and insects.
Environmentally friendly paint could be used to give the clothes poles a new lease of life and add some colour to the area.
We didn’t even mention that the periphery of the space may be a wooden or metal fence that could also provide an opportunity for hedges or climbing plants like ivy.
If a ‘green’ option wasn’t chosen for the boundary fencing, then consideration could be given to the product used to maintain the appearance and longevity of what is in place. Instead of choosing harmful, toxic creosotes choosing a more appropriate finish.
How would a property management company ‘sell’ the idea to residents/clients?
Of course, this work would come at a cost. However, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, green, outdoor spaces are much needed.
And whilst in many cities, tenants and residents might have a park or greenspace close by, for many people (including older people or those with young children), the option of a more private, communal space could be much more appealing than having to navigate to a public space.
Aside from the environmental and mental health benefits, property management companies could offer many more reasons for clients to improved or more green outdoor space.
These might include, enhanced ‘kerb’ appeal; buyer or rental appeal; an opportunity to bring residents together; a usable outdoor space; a place to barbecue in summer; an outdoor space that’s visually appealing.
Property management companies have a tremendous opportunity to contribute towards suggesting, attempting or actually improving the outdoor spaces of their clients. And to do it sustainably with a view to the future. The ongoing maintenance of these spaces will contribute to healthier lives now and prepare for a brighter future.
If you are a contractor or property manager involved in the management of outdoor spaces, please get in touch if you would like to streamline and manage your repairs and maintenance with Blockworx.