Environmental sustainability

We aim to make our homes environmentally sustainable to build and to live in. We want to develop our methods of construction, the materials that we use and the technologies that we include within our homes to improve their environmental sustainability performance. We also plan our developments to include appropriate environmentally sustainable features. We may provide different recycling bins at easy to reach locations, connect the development with the surrounding area with footpaths and cycle ways, or put in place measures to protect animal species such as installing bat boxes or relocating newts. All of this gives our customers and their new communities the opportunity to live in a more environmentally-friendly way.

We acknowledge the global threat of climate change and our responsibility to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. We recognise that we contribute to climate change with the emissions produced through our supply chain, the construction process, and the future occupation of the homes. We aim to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions produced by our developments and we are committed to working with the Government and others to achieve this.

We have calculated the ‘greenhouse gas footprint’ for our business, including our supply chain, since 2009. This is a measurement of the gases that our company’s homebuilding activities produce that contribute to global warming. We report our footprint through the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), which is an organisation that records and reports company climate-change information. We are a ‘full participant’ in the first phase of the CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) Energy Efficiency Scheme. Under this scheme, which is compulsory for UK companies that use more than a certain amount of electricity, we must declare the carbon emissions we produce through our direct energy use. We must then buy ‘allowances’ to offset these emissions. We are currently working with the Carbon Trust to develop a more detailed strategy to monitor, measure and manage our carbon emissions and report each year on our performance. We are also preparing to meet new requirements to report carbon emissions data in our Annual Report.

There are three aspects to environmental sustainability. 

The effect on the local natural environment

By definition, any development of a site will have an effect on the local environment. We aim to minimise any potentially negative effects and make a positive contribution to the local environment wherever possible.

During the planning stages of a development we consider the existing condition of the site, its surroundings and the effects our development would have. We deal effectively with issues such as derelict buildings, soil and water pollution. We protect valuable natural features during construction, such as putting fencing around mature trees or using silt traps along the banks of streams. We also protect animals (for example providing bat boxes) or relocate them (such as newts or slow worms). Wherever possible we incorporate natural features and animals in to our design proposals. We assess the existing landscape and public open space, including how it is used by local people.

Saxon Heath 1_WEB 

At Saxon Heath in Tarvin we have brought under our control additional land next to the development site. The land will provide a suitable habitat for us to relocate the great crested newt population to. We will then be able to change our design for the new village green in line with the community's wishes.

Before building on previously developed sites (brownfield land), we clear up waste, clean chemical pollution from soil and groundwater, and remove asbestos from buildings no longer in use. We often use physical, chemical, biological and thermal environmental technologies and treatments to tackle any remaining pollution and to make sites safe for their new use. All the improvement and clean-up work we carry out is approved by the appropriate local and national government organisations. In the last few years we have built well over half of our homes on brownfield land. We transform empty, derelict or contaminated areas of land that could encourage antisocial behaviour into desirable places to live, and we improve the local environment for the benefit of the wider community.

We are committed to maintaining high standards in relation to the environmental management of sites. We aim to keep any harmful effects that our activities may have on local environments and communities to a minimum, and to make a positive contribution to the areas we build in. Our health, safety and environment procedures include an environmental management system and a commitment to continually improving. For all sites, we complete a Site Specific Environmental Action Plan, which is then carried out by our site management teams. We aim to protect plants and wildlife and, where possible, improve the ecological value of the sites we develop. 

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The effects of the construction process and manufacture of the materials used

Building our developments and making the materials that we use have environmental impacts which we aim to reduce as much as possible.

We have systems in place to make sure that potential nuisance such as noise and dust is kept to a minimum, and that our building sites are managed considerately.

Inevitably, construction activities and the manufacture of materials have an effect on the environment. They use natural resources such as water and timber, produce carbon emissions and waste products. For example, to make bricks, first clay is mined in quarries and mixed with water to help create the brick shape, then the bricks are fired in a kiln using gas, coal or sawdust before being transported by lorry to storage depots and finally to our sites. On the day someone moves into their new home it has already had an effect on the environment, known as an ‘ecological footprint’.  We try to reduce this footprint by sourcing our materials carefully. A good example is timber, which is used extensively in construction. Our policy is to buy timber only from certified sustainable sources, helping to protect valuable forests.

As important as what goes into building our homes is what is left over from construction and what happens to it. Waste comes in many forms, from demolition materials and polluted soils to trimmings, breakages and packaging materials. We work with our suppliers and subcontractors to reduce, reuse and recycle as much waste as possible. We reduced the amount of construction waste per home completed that we sent to landfill by over 70% between 2007 and 2012.

In 2013 we introduced our ReUSE programme, which shares clean surplus soil and recycled aggregates between our sites. ReUSE was highly commended in the waste category of the Constructing Excellence National Awards 2012.

Hanson Jetfloor waste trial at Brickhill

Trial of Hanson's Jetfloor product at Brickhill in Bedfordshire

We have also been working with 12 of our larger suppliers to reduce the amount of waste produced, including from product packaging. Steve Hardcastle of Hanson said, “Taylor Wimpey has played an integral part in the development of our new Jetfloor product. The focus for the product development has been simplicity, robustness and waste reduction without increasing overall costs. A trial at Taylor Wimpey’s Brickhill development showed that all these had been met. The polystyrene waste alone was reduced by almost 100%.”

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The energy and resources used by those living in the homes we build

While we cannot control how people live in the homes we build, we can provide homes that can be run using less energy and resources. This also could help residents reduce the size of their utilities bills.

The new homes that we build are much more energy-efficient than older housing.  Our ‘fabric first’ approach concentrates on highly insulated walls and windows, which helps owners to effortlessly save energy and money. Next, we make the homes more airtight and use mechanical ventilation systems to maintain good air quality and comfort. Finally, where appropriate, we use low-carbon and renewable technologies, from more straightforward items on individual properties, such as solar panels that generate electricity from sunlight, to more complex communal energy systems which share heat or power (or both) from a central generator across whole developments.

Rowner 4_WEB

Construction is ongoing at the Rowner Renewal Project in Gosport. Here, working with the Zero Carbon Hub, we are carrying out in-use energy efficiency trials of our homes.

At the Rowner Regeneration Project in Gosport, Hampshire, we are working with the Zero Carbon Hub to test and learn from the energy performance of some of our homes once people are living in them. As part of this trial we have constructed the first block of flats in the UK to meet the Zero Carbon Hub’s Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES). Neil Jefferson, CEO of the Zero Carbon Hub said, “Assessments and monitoring data gathered at Rowner will provide a great learning opportunity for both the wider construction industry and for Government in preparation for mass scale delivery of zero carbon homes from 2016.”

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