Location is more than a red pin on a Google map. It has been there for as long as this land has existed. It is our past and our future, whether we live there or not – or plan to live there – and its continued well-being needs to be taken into consideration when purchasing a property.
At its most basic, a house can be judged by what it is and where it is. Which is fine, if you happen to be living at a time when what you saw was more or less what you got, when the usefulness and value of your new home was evident in the size and position of doors and windows, number and size of rooms, and other factors that could be judged by simply looking at them. And, of course, if the house was in a handy location, close to essential services. But not too close.
Life is more complicated now. It is not only the plumbing and electrical wires that are hidden these days, and any decision about location must take many other factors into account, such as long-term environmental planning, sporting and leisure facilities, airport distances and general community services . The key word of our time, with regard to any new home, is sustainability, and that means the sustainability of the house itself and its location. A BREEAM certification goes a long way towards telling us just how sustainable is the new house we might be living in, and its surroundings.
The Vista Lago Residences development, comprising 18 luxury design-led villas, is situated on the highest ground in El Real de La Quinta, one of the most perfect locations in the world and recent (and a first for Spain!) recipient of the coveted BREEAM.ES Urbanism certificate. This guarantees utmost respect for the environment, sustainable and eco-friendly construction and the perfect balance between nature as found and the well-being of its temporary occupants. In practical terms, each step of the development was planned with the BREEAM organization from the very start, from site design through climate and energy concerns, transportation, resources and promotion of the local economy to the finished building design. While design and site location can be judged to a large extent by sight, many other factors have to be taken on trust, and that is what makes a BREEAM certificate so valuable.
The development, surrounded by beautiful mountain terrain, overlooks a lake, golf courses and the Mediterranean Sea beyond, with clear views of the Rock of Gibraltar and Africa. It is within short driving distance of the largely uninhabited hinterland leading up to the beautiful and historic town of Ronda and less than 15 minutes’ drive to Puerto Banús and the other stylish urban centres along the coast. The emblematic La Concha Mountain is on the left and the green wooded hills of the famous La Zagaleta Resort and Country Club are on the right. If geographic location is royal, this area is imperial.
Each house is built on a generous plot on which the carefully thought-out orientation of each villa ensures complete privacy. All residents and their guests benefit from the amenities offered by the community, including a large lake, an orchard, pools, restaurants, boutique hotel and an executive golf course, while farther down the hills we reach the magnificent Real de La Quinta lake, with its trendy chiringuito and multiple water sports. All the amenities of the most stylish section of the Costa del Sol are within a few minutes’ driving distance, and golfers will find themselves spoiled for choice amidst some of the most famous courses in Southern Europe. Other popular sports on offer include tennis, horse riding, cycling and rambling, but leisure is important too. And the best leisure activity in this blessed area may well just be being there.
What is it?
With so much fake news running rampage through the media these days, it is indeed difficult to get to the truth about anything, especially when self-promotion is involved. The answer is to establish independent protocols to guide us, with certification we can trust. That’s why a BREEAM certificate is so important in assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings.
The name means “Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method”, first published by the Building Research Establishment in 1990 and now used in more than seventy countries worldwide. The scheme was updated in 1998 in response to the development of new sustainability methods, with further versions of BREEAM being introduced as necessary since then.
A version of BREEAM for new homes was established in 2000, named EcoHomes, and this became the basis of the Code of Sustainable Homes developed by the Building Research Establishment for the British Government in 2006.
A 2008 update of all BREEAM schemes introduced obligatory construction reviews, minimum standards and a system of credits relating to innovation, while the scheme was launched internationally that same year. New construction updates were subsequently made as needed, the last being Ecobuild in 2018. Along with four other western European countries, Spain has its own BREEAM operator, managed by the Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia.
There are several sustainability categories in BREEAM, the main ones being management, energy, health and wellbeing, transport, water, materials, waste, land use and ecology, and pollution. Home Quality Mark was introduced in 2015, rating new homes on an overall sustainability level, with further general indicators such as running costs and environmental footprint.
Sustainability: can we afford it?
Although the question should be reversed (can we afford not to have it?), independent research has shown that sustainable options using BREEAM adds little or no capital cost to a building, and if additional cost is incurred, it is usually paid back in the not-too-long term through lower running expenses and longer shelf life of a building. And that does not take into account the improved quality of life by its residents. What is essential towards achieving a BREEAM certificate is careful planning and design, and a fluid working relationship between builder/designer and client, and that costs no more than a good dose of common sense.
For more information on Vista Lago Residences, please call our Sales Manager, Andrew Lee on (+34) 648 981 111
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