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, bee bricks and wildlife friendly planting in 2021 and bat boxes from 2022. We issued our standard for hedgehog highways, developed with NGO Hedgehog Street, during 2021 and our guidance on bug hotels and bee bricks, reviewed by Buglife.
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. All our new sites will integrate biodiversity net gain from 2023. 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.
Concerns around nutrient stress and nutrient neutrality are affecting at least 75 local authorities in England. For our developments in areas of nutrient stress, we carry out risk assessments and additional due diligence and work closely with the local authority to develop a proactive plan to address and mitigate the potential impacts of development. We have issued guidance to our business units on how to undertake risk assessments and how to achieve nutrient neutrality in order to protect the environment and enable development to proceed.
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 2021, we estimate our homes achieved an average water consumption (internal and external) of 122.8 litres per person per day.
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. In our Maintenance Guide we include advice for customers 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 18.5%. 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.
We require all suppliers to provide timber from legally logged sources in line with our Supply Chain Policy and the EU Timber Regulation. Our tender documents and trade specifications state that we require all suppliers to supply timber from responsibly managed forests certified by recognised schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). We survey suppliers to identify supply chain risks. We require any companies sourcing from higher risk countries to carry out due diligence to ensure timber meets our standards.
Our placemaking standards and guidance documents such as our Approach to Placemaking and Guide to Green Infrastructure 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 and peer assessment process through design workshops to enable our teams to understand how well their planned developments meet our placemaking criteria. We estimate that around 85% of our developments now going through the planning process have been designed based on these criteria.
All new developments must be signed off by our Director of Design (a qualified architect and urban designer) at the land acquisition or planning stage. Our design teams are trained on our standards.
Our community engagement process, applied to all sites, helps us to assess local needs and reflect these in the design and layout of our developments to create sustainable new communities. Our Political and Community Engagement Toolkit helps our teams to consistently engage a wide range of stakeholders in the planning and design process. It outlines a range of best practice approaches that our business units apply according to the local circumstances.
Quality, connectivity and accessibility
We worked with architects to update our standard house types. These reflect the findings from our Project 2020 prototype homes and customer research, providing opportunities for more open-plan living, more 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.