A Scandi-lifestyle in Leeds: What it is like living in the Climate Innovation District according to the people that live there
As the world begins to open its eyes to the dangers of climate change, these Leeds residents are taking proactive steps to make their homes as eco-friendly as possible.
They are part of a new community called the Climate Innovation District, an energy-efficient development just outside the city centre, situated next to the River Aire.
Built by Leeds-based developers Citu, the houses and apartments are built with sustainability in mind, all utilising solar panels and being made from timber frames to reduce carbon emissions.
They are also engineered to retain heat in winter and remain cool in summer, meaning they can be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.
The first residents of the Climate Innovation District moved into their new sustainable homes early in 2019 and since then a thriving community has emerged.
Bridie Sprouts, 30, and Kris Hollard, 30, moved into their home in March, after previously living in The Calls.
She said the development reminded the couple of the lifestyle they enjoyed while living in Copenhagen.
Miss Sproat, a primary school teacher, said: “We lived in Copahagen for a year and we loved the lifestyle, community and buildings there wanted to come home to be near family.
“When we were looking we were willing to move out of the city centre, but this was ideal because it is so central but it feels idyllic and suburban because of the greenery and the houses.
“You feel like you are in a little village. It is really the best of both worlds.”
She added: “One of the big things for us was having a community and lots of people around.
“The developers say that here is about taking the fences down, so you’re not in your garden alone, you’re always in shared space with neighbours who are like minded.
“We moved in on the same day as four of our neighbours which was a great shared experience and we’ve even had drinks on the roof with some of them.
“Everybody has been really welcoming and the prospect of what to come is just really exciting.”
Hayley Doherty, 27, and Michael Terren, 28, also lived in The Calls before moving into their new Citu home.
Hayley, a compliance manager, said: “We love city centre living, the fact that we can walk to work and equally, at the weekend, quite easily walk out to bars and walk home and not have the need for taxis.
“You can be quite spontaneous as everything is on your doorstep.
“We always thought the first property we would buy would be a flat because that’s what is typically on offer in city centres but Citu presented an opportunity to buy a house that had all of these benefits
“There are so many l benefits to I think of this type of development and its location is one of them for us.
“I think this is going to be the best of both worlds because we have the benefit of the city centre, but also this fantastic roof terrace and space to enjoy the outside in summer."
Michael, a creative producer, added: “I can't see my work from my window anymore. We're still in the city centre but more separated than we would be.
“It's really strange because when you actually walk outside it does feel like nowhere near town, a bit like a holiday complex when you go to Greece or Spain."
Both Michael and Hayley said that they wouldn’t consider themselves experts on the environment, but both are acutely aware of the need to reduce carbon emissions - something they say is a huge bonus of living in the Citu development.
Michael said: “We are conscious of the environment, but I wouldn’t say we are the most conscious on the street.
"I think something that will have a major impact is just trying to reduce what we’re doing.
"For example, we're now in a car-less area, which straightaway is a positive step.
"It's important for us and in the future, we will be doing more, - especially living here, we need to up our game."
Hayley said: “I don't think you need to be a certain way of thinking to live here but you will change.
"We acknowledge and definitely have been acknowledging for some time that there's a need to change the way in which people live and to reduce our carbon footprint.
“It is quite evident in terms of, the fires around the world and flooding and whatnot so, we definitely need to act.
“Something that seems to have aligned at Citu, is being able to reduce our carbon footprint without really impacting our way of living.
“For example, there are solar panels and the electricity grid, but there’s smaller things too like the home is set up with Nest, so you can control everything from your smart phone and there’s a nifty little button on the way out the house which turns off all the non-required electric sources.
“It makes being conscious of the environment easier, because you only have to switch off one button rather than maybe 20.”
Jonathan Wilson, Development Director at Citu, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the community that is being built at the Climate Innovation District and are confident that the residents have and will invest in our vision to make the largest sustainable development in the country.
“The climate crisis is now finally being acknowledged as an emergency and I am hopeful that the last year has shown us all how adaption and change is possible at pace and scale.
“What this change has taught us is how hugely important and significant our homes, communities and places are in relation to our health and wellbeing.
“We hope that the enjoyment and realisation linked to local green spaces, fresh air, natural light and natural materials is sustained and continued.
“There has always been a notion within the industry that zero carbon homes and communities cannot be built at scale but we’re showing that it can be done in places that are progressive and the future.
“With the next phase of development at Aire Lofts now underway I’m really excited to welcome even more people into this friendly, forward-thinking community.”