We integrate sustainability into the design and construction of our homes and developments, guided by our sustainability standards and our Approach to Sustainable Development guidance document.
Energy and climate change
We are working towards our target to reduce carbon emissions from customer homes in use by 75% by 2030. Our standard house types integrate energy efficiency measures and other sustainability features, and from 2021, a working from home area that can help customers reduce their travel footprint. Around 80% of house types are designed to achieve an average SAP rating of 84 or above, while 16% are 86 or above. Our production teams and those responsible for energy use in our offices and sales areas must follow our Energy Do’s and Don’ts guidance document for reducing energy use and we are rolling out training on our standards through masterclass sessions.
We are exceeding regulatory and planning requirements by integrating wildlife enhancements on new sites, starting with hedgehog highways, bug hotels and wildlife friendly planting in 2021. We issued our standard for hedgehog highways, developed with NGO Hedgehog Street, during early 2021.
Our Home for Nature Toolkit helps our teams to increase biodiversity on our sites and our Guide to Green Infrastructure was developed with input from the Wildlife Trust. It requires our business units to go beyond local authority requirements in areas such as incorporating existing trees and woodland. Guidance for bug hotels and bee bricks is in development with input from Buglife and will be issued during 2021, as well as guidance on planting and our Biodiversity Net Gain Process Manual that will help our regional businesses and land teams manage the risks, costs and opportunities associated with net gain.
Water and flood risk
We take the risk of flooding on our developments extremely seriously and identify potential flood risk as part of our site selection process. We use the Environment Agency’s flood mapping tools, and take account of their input during our planning consultations. We do not buy land unless we can mitigate flood risk. Our green infrastructure guide helps our teams to manage water on site. We integrate sustainable drainage systems (SDS) that decrease flow rates to watercourses, increase infiltration into the ground and improve water quality such as ponds, swales, permeable paving, retention basins, wetlands, green roofs, infiltration trenches and soakaways. We use a digital platform for assessing and managing sustainability and technical risks associated with land, called LEADR (Land and Environment Assessment of Development Risk). This draws on external environmental databases to help us manage risks associated with land and environmental impacts, including remediation, flooding, biodiversity and archaeology.
All our homes have low flow taps and showers, dual flush toilets, and (in England and Wales) water meters fitted.
In 2020, we estimate our homes achieved an average water consumption (internal and external) of 123.6 litres per person per day. This takes into account that 9% of homes were built to the Code for Sustainable Homes Standard level 3 or above. With the launch of our environmental strategy, we will be making it easier for customers in water stressed regions to install a water butt.
Ventilation, sound insulation, air quality
Our National Construction specification sets our standards on areas such as ventilation and sound insulation. We are developing guidance for customers during 2021 to help them maintain good air quality in their homes.
Materials and waste
Our Supply Chain Policy states our preference for sustainably certified timber, and materials that are low embodied energy. We are working towards building 20% of our homes from timber frame and are currently at around 18.6%. Research by the EU suggests that timber framed houses with brick cladding embody 21% less carbon than a house built with traditional masonry techniques.
We are integrating more recycled materials into our homes and will be adding integrated kitchen recycling bins for 20,000 customers by 2025. Our production teams must follow our Waste Do’s and Don’ts guidance document for reducing waste on site and we are rolling out training on our standards through masterclass sessions.
Our placemaking standards and Guide to Placemaking are based on best practice, such as Building for a Healthy Life. They exceed standard requirements in areas such as efficient use of land, quality of public realm, connectivity and green infrastructure. Our placemaking compendium, Building Blocks of Place, includes practical advice and case study examples to help our teams implement our standards. We have introduced a self-assessment process to enable our teams to understand how well their planned developments meet our placemaking criteria. We estimate that around 80% of our developments now going through the planning process have been designed based on these criteria and around 58% of completed sites.
All new developments are now reviewed by our Urban Designer and signed off by our Director of Design before being submitted for planning approval. Our design teams are trained on our standards.
Quality, connectivity and accessibility
We worked with architects to update our standard house types. These will build on the findings from our Project 2020 prototype homes and customer research, providing opportunities for more open-plan living, greater natural light and improved storage. Most are designed to meet the standards in the optional Nationally Described Space Standard and the enhanced level 2 for accessibility in Part M of the building regulations (broadly equal to lifetime homes standard). 33 out of 47 of our new standard house type designs will be standards compliant. Our Build Quality Checklist and Construction Quality Review help us to ensure we construct homes to our required standards. This improves efficiency and reduces waste. Our homes are built to accommodate superfast broadband.