December 13, 2018
Does air quality affect the marketability of your home?
21 JUNE 2018 WAS CLEAN AIR DAY.
A DAY WHICH AIMS TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF AIR QUALITY, THE EFFECTS AIR
POLLUTION CAN HAVE ON YOUR HEALTH AND WHAT STEPS CAN BE TAKEN TO IMPROVE
AIR QUALITY. AIR QUALITY IS A FACTOR WHICH HOME BUYERS ARE INCREASINGLY
CONSIDERING WHEN DECIDING ON A SHORTLIST OF PROPERTIES, PARTICULARLY IN
air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the
UK, ultimately reducing life expectancy. Evidence shows that it
increases the risks of respiratory (including childhood asthma and lung
cancer) and cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.
2016, 86% of Britain’s 43 air quality zones breached the legal annual
mean limit for nitrogen dioxide (N02) of 40 ug/m3. NO2 is just one of
the air pollutants that is monitored when looking at air quality and
approximately a third of NO2 levels are now due to traffic emissions.
Government target was for these 43 zones to be compliant by 2010 but it
has conceded it could take until 2026 before air quality targets are
met. The effects of NO2 are local and local authorities have been tasked
with producing local solutions as part of their local plans.
UK Clear Air Zones and funding
London exceedances of 40 ug/m3 are widespread throughout the city near
busy roads and in central London there are also instances where these
levels occur between main roads and motorways, even though the general
trend for NO2 levels has been downward. Outside of the capital, where
exceedances occur these have been mainly at roadside locations.
start to tackle the issue of air pollution, London established a
much-needed Low Emissions Zone ten years ago and Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is
looking to bring forward the rollout of the city’s Ultra Low Emission
Zone (ULEZ) by April 2019, following a public consultation which was 60%
in favour of an early implementation.
the Clean Air Framework in May 2017, in which Clean Air Zones were
identified as the most effective way to improve roadside air quality,
the government has set aside funds to help other local authorities take
steps to improve their air quality. In July 2017, £225 million was made
available as part of its Clean Air Strategy. This was added to in the
Autumn Budget that year when a £220 million Clean Air Fund was
Five cities: Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton will introduce Clean Air Zones (CAZs) next year to bring NO2 concentrations below the legal limit.
Air Zones improve the urban environment to support public health and
the local economy, making cities more attractive places to live, work,
do business and spend leisure time. They support cities to grow and
transition to a low emission economy thus ensuring these benefits are
sustainable for the long term.”
EEA (European Environment Agency) data for the CAZs shows that London
was exceeding the 40 40 ug/m3 threshold by 150% in 2016 based on average
mean levels. More detailed data from London Air/ King’s College London
shows that since 2008, average NO2 levels have fallen by 14% on the
roadside and by 23% based on the mean background in Greater London. This
is in part due to the low Emissions Zone introduced 10 years ago along
with other policy and lifestyle changes (more walking and cycling). This
is likely to be a factor which has encouraged the repopulation of
What steps are cities outside the UK taking to improve air quality?
- Copenhagen – through planning policies reducing the need for car usage and investing in cycle networks
- Los Angeles – LA Express Park (a demand-based parking system) was launched to reduce congestion.
- Milan – congestion charge
- Paris – restricting vehicles into city centre using a sticker system
- New York City – reducing idling since 2009 using fine system, especially near schools.
- Freiburg – encourages the use of public transport by restricting car ownership in areas of the city.
- Delhi – ban on all large diesel vehicles and phase out of diesel taxis.
- Netherlands – movement by politicians to ban sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2025, allowing only electric or hydrogen.
- Oslo – planning a large no car zone and investing in cycle network, removal of car parking spaces and congestion charge
Air quality and its impact on the housing market
are no signs of a correlation between air quality (as measured by NO2
emissions – annual mean – for CAZs) and house prices at a local
authority or regional level across the UK during this snapshot. This is
because there a myriad of other factors that influence the levels of
demand present in housing markets. Currently, economic ones, such as
number of jobs and salary levels, outweigh any concerns that may exist
about potential health issues arising from poor air quality. This is
evident in London with the highest values being achieved at its core in
Prime Central London due to the quality of the housing stock and
amenities, with easy accessibility to lucrative employment markets.
Relationships between air quality and house prices might be more
relevant at a very localised level (i.e. different ends of a street) and
researchers have certainly found correlations in US cities using much
has been suggested that a poor air quality rating could be detrimental
to an asking price by as much as 15%. There is evidence that house
prices dip steeply with proximity to busy roads (such as the North
Circular in London), that flat prices tend to increase with height from
street level and that open space and waterfronts attract premiums. A
proportion of these premiums may be attributed to air quality although
it is difficult to single out this factor from other consideration such
as noise and light pollution and better views, which will also play a
the industrial revolution, homes located adjacent to areas of heavy
industry have been less desirable and thus sold at a discount to
comparable properties located in their leafy suburbs. Over the last 20
years, buyers have become ever more environmentally aware and data more
freely available. Consequently, air pollution level (albeit often
invisible) is another factor that buyers are progressively taking more
into consideration along with other pros and cons of a property and its
the past year or so, it has been mooted that air pollution statistics
(at least in the form of a simple traffic light system based on the
Government’s Air Quality Index) could end up sitting alongside EPC
ratings on property listings due to consumer demand. This is a real
possibility although an increasing number of smartphone Apps for
real-time and historic air pollution at a very localised (postcode)
level may plug this gap sooner than any official rating on property