The Smart Home Movement: Following Consumer Demand – smart technology can save energy on heating, cooling and lighting and can even save water through smart irrigation, it is viewed as a valuable environmentally-friendly feature of a home.

The Smart Home Movement: Following Consumer Demand
Smart homes are moving past the early-adopter stage and through the acceptance and demand stages quickly.
Published by: Special to CONTRACTOR | Aug 20, 2018

The market for smart home technology that was about $24 billion in 2016 is anticipated to reach $53 billion by 2022. Smart homes are moving past the early-adopter stage and through the acceptance and demand stages quickly. With this in mind, forward-thinking builders and contractors might consider offering a wide-range of these features in new residential construction projects.

What is Creating the Demand for Smart Home Technology?

Acceptance of Technology

Initially, there may have been some reluctance to accept smart technology in homes. This reluctance may have been rooted in concerns about reliability, perceived need, security, and ease of use. In a few short years, however, most of these issues have been addressed and more benefits to the technology have been realized. Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants like Siri and Alexa have exploded in popularity and have been accepted into millions of homes. Many consumers have come to not only accept the help of these devices but have come to rely upon them.

Millennials Entering the Housing Market

Slow to embrace homeownership, mainly due to a challenging economy and other unique circumstances, the largest segment of the population on the planet is moving into real estate in increasing numbers. While U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that home ownership by Millennials is still relatively small at 36%, according to Bloomberg, its growth from 34.7% a year earlier was higher than any other age group between 2016-2017. This is a generation who grew up with technology and the convenience and connectivity it provides. While their predecessors may have sought out open floor plans, garden tubs, and granite countertops, smart technology is potentially more important to this younger generation of home buyers.

Demand for “Green” Features

Because smart technology can save energy on heating, cooling and lighting and can even save water through smart irrigation, it is viewed as a valuable environmentally-friendly feature of a home. Millennials aren’t the only generation that values green brands and products, but their increasing involvement in real estate is certainly having an impact in this regard.

Adding Value to Homes

Like other features that create value in a home, smart technology can increase interest and demand for a property, and when properly designed and installed, can add real value. This is particularly true when local buyers are familiar with the technology and understand its convenience and capabilities.


According to an article in Reuters, the globally connected home security system market is expected to grow by over 27% in the period from 2017-2021. Security is an integral part of smart home features, including the ability to lock and unlock doors remotely, detect motion, check into a home via live video and more. This expected demand coincides with the anticipated growth in smart technology.


Consumers have come to rely on smartphones to provide directions, information about where to eat, and to stay connected with family and friends. Many count on smart technology for references and referrals, to make purchases and to share rides. It has become very much an “on-demand” society and it is no surprise many would want these conveniences woven into their homes at some point.

Popular Smart Home Features

It is easy to understand the value and convenience in having the most popular smart home features installed in a home. These include:

• Lighting

• Heating and Cooling

• Appliances

• Entertainment

• Locks and Security

• Sensors and Detectors

• Window Blinds

• Home Healthcare

• Irrigation

Since much of this technology can be more expensive to install as aftermarket features, more contractors are realizing the value of including them in new home construction. This often provides for an economy of scale in costs, while offering home buyers an all-in-one, seamless, smart home network solution. A home with professionally installed, complete smart home features will likely have a higher perceived value than one with a series of DIY installed, individual features.

The Difference Between Automation and Smart Features

There is a difference between features like automatically-timed thermostats and smart features in a home. Smart features are generally Wi-Fi connected devices that “learn” the habits of its owners. Automation in a home falls into the programmable device category.

Well planned smart features can work in concert with each other and be simply managed from a single device, most commonly a smartphone. Smart features have become increasingly secure and desired. For a home to be considered “smart”, it should generally have three or more smart features.

Smart Homes: Here to Stay

It is difficult to imagine life today without social media, smartphones or GPS systems, and it will only become more difficult as time passes. It may not be long before many have these same expectations in their homes. Today, 43 percent of those who own smart homes are between the ages of 18 and 34. Builders and contractors who want to stay relevant in the coming years may want to prepare now to offer homes and devices that are better connected to their owners in the future.

What other construction feature increases convenience, adds value, improves safety and security, saves energy, and is “green”? What other home system appeals more to today’s home buyers? Smart technology in homes is neither fad nor limited to just Millennials. It appeals to all buyer segments and it is here to stay. The direction smart homes take from here is certainly up to debate, but it is hard to imagine things will stay as they are for long.

Tackling The Plastic Problem: Using The Tax System Or Charges To Address Single-Use Plastic Waste – The UK Government Announces A Consultation

UK: Tackling The Plastic Problem: Using The Tax System Or Charges To Address Single-Use Plastic Waste – The UK Government Announces A Consultation

Last Updated: 16 May 2018 – Article by Heather Gibson – Brodies LLP

The UK Government has announced bold ambitions to be “the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it”. The call for evidence will better enable the Government to assess how changes to the tax system or new charges could change the behaviour of business and consumers.

An appeal is being made to industry, public services, consumers, local authorities, environmental experts and all those interested in the issue to get involved.

“The better the evidence, the better the policy”.

This consultation is looking to capitalise on success stories such as landfill tax, single-use plastic carrier bag charges and the existing Packaging Waste Recovery Note system. A working group is already considering the benefits of a deposit return scheme to reduce littering and increase recycling of drinks containers.

The call for evidence has been split into lifecycle stages: production, retail, consumption and discarding / waste treatment.

The definition of “single use plastic” will need to be considered as this will determine who is affected by any future legislation and the extent of necessary action.

From a food and drink perspective, the Government is keen to hear of plastic alternatives to takeaway boxes, disposable boxes, coffee cups, plastic cutlery and plastic wrapping and polystyrene packaging as these are all expected to be impacted.

Identifying the problems caused by single use plastic is a key first step before identifying viable solutions while the Government acknowledges that there are situations where plastic cannot be easily replaced.

The Government is seeking input from businesses on how the tax system or charges can play a role in delivering better environmental outcomes, specifically examples of interventions that should be implemented and the effect these would have – both broadly, and in relation to the businesses themselves.

The deadline for responses is 18 May 2018.

The consultation document can be found by clicking here: UK Plastics

Responses can be submitted by email:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

UK Government’s vision for a greener future launched

The UK government has published – here – its 25 Year Environment Plan, today, 11 January 2018. From – Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street, and The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

A pledge to eliminate avoidable waste, introduce new safeguards for wildlife and connect more children with nature are among the ambitious plans for a greener future outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May and Environment Secretary Michael Gove today.

In a major speech today, the Prime Minister has launched the government’s landmark 25 Year Environment Plan, setting out how we will improve the environment over a generation by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans.

“A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment” sets out how over the next quarter of a century the government will:

Crackdown on plastics by eliminating all avoidable plastic waste through extending the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers, removing consumer single use plastics from the government estate, supporting the water industry to significantly increase water fountains and working with retailers on introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles.

Help wildlife thrive by creating 500,000 hectares of new habitat for endangered species, supporting farmers to turn fields into meadows and other habitats, replenishing depleted soils and providing £5.7 million to kick-start a new Northern Forest.

Be a world leader in environmental protection by investigating the feasibility of an anti-poaching taskforce to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, committing overseas aid to help developing nations combat plastic waste, and extending the UK’s network of marine protected areas

Deliver a Green Brexit by consulting on a new environmental watchdog to hold government to account for environmental standards, and setting out a new approach to agriculture and fisheries management

Seek to embed a ‘net environmental gain’ principle so development delivers environmental improvements locally and nationally, enabling housing development without increasing overall burdens on developers

Connect people with nature by creating ‘nature friendly schools’ and reviewing National Parks to see how they can improve and whether the network should be extended.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Respecting nature’s intrinsic value and making sure we are wise stewards of our natural world is critical if we are to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

Our Environment Plan sets out how over the next 25 years we will radically reduce the waste that is choking oceans and rivers, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants and create new habitats for our most precious wildlife to thrive.

Through this plan we will build on our reputation as a global leader in environmental protection, creating an environment everyone can enjoy and helping the next generation flourish.

In a world-first, the 25 Year Environment Plan also sets out how we will use a natural capital approach to help us see the additional benefits – whether that is improved health and wellbeing, or national prosperity – in every part our environment, helping improve and direct decision making, and guiding new development.

The Plan sits alongside existing work. A Call for Evidence on reward and return schemes for drinks containers, including plastic bottles, has closed. Its findings are now being assessed by the Working Group, who will make recommendations to ministers this Spring.

As announced in the Budget, the Government will also launch a further Call for Evidence shortly on how changes to the tax system or charges on single-use plastics can play a role in reducing waste.

The plan sits alongside the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out how the UK is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change and driving economic growth.

UK: Tesco Fined £3m Million For Environmental and £5m for Safety Offences, over one incident of loss of 23,500 litres of petrol into sewers and the River Irwell

Acknowledgement: Denton’s

In June 2017, Tesco was fined £8 million for breaches of environmental and safety law. The prosecution followed an incident in July 2014 at a petrol filling station in Haslingden operated by Tesco. 23,500 litres of petrol were lost from a fuel tank during a 29-hour period, and the fuel entered sewers and the River Irwell. A multi-agency response took place, involving the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, United Utilities, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Police.

The Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council jointly prosecuted Tesco for breaches of the Environmental Permitting Regulations and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations. Tesco pleaded guilty to both offences.

The court found Tesco had failed to address a known issue with the fuel delivery system, had an inadequate alarm system in place and had poor emergency procedures once the incident occured. Residents had to leave their homes, reporting sickness and headaches, and fish were killed in the river. Tesco was fined £5 million for the effects on health and safety and £3 million for the environmental pollution.

Following the recent case on legal privilege, and the criticisms made by the court of Tesco’s emergency procedures, all organizations should consider the high risk areas of their business and how they should respond, both on a practical level and legally when incidents do occur.