20 November 2020

The housing industry must rise to the sustainability challenge
Andrew Day, Sustainability Director, Telford Homes 

The UK Government has highlighted the need to make greener buildings as a core tenant of its 10-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution.’ And rightly so; the domestic sector accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions, with the built environment overall responsible for nearly half. 

If the housing industry  is to successfully reach our Net Zero target by 2050, it is clear we will need to make drastic changes to the way we design, build and use our homes. Adjusting to the climate challenge will impact all areas of the industry – and everyone involved, from builders and architects to designers, has a responsibility to sustainable policies.

Of course, this is often easier said than done. With the housing crisis driving demand for affordable homes, the industry is under pressure to deliver new homes at pace. Combined with the looming impacts of Brexit, not to mention the far reaching and well documented challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be tempting to let sustainable policies fall by the wayside.  But as the net zero deadline looms ever closer, it’s vital we make sustainability a boardroom priority.  

We are starting to see positive change, as businesses across the sector adopt integrated strategies. Earlier this year, we at Telford Homes laid out a clear roadmap, outlining our ambition to become a net zero carbon company by 2030 . But to truly succeed in becoming a more sustainable industry, we need a consistent, collaborated approach. Collective efforts between the industry, policy-makers and like-minded advocacy groups, such as the development of a deliverable National Future Homes Standard, will be vital if we are to truly shift the dial. As will the adoption of clear, consistent metrics by which to measure outputs – through uniform SBT and TCFD reporting.

We have already begun to see some promising examples of collaboration on sustainability policies across the industry. Just this week, London First published its business manifesto for achieving Net Zero in London, to which we contributed, calling on businesses and local government to sign up to an ambitious commitment to meet the capital’s decarbonisation challenge. Click on the following link to read London First’s full manifesto: https://www.wsp.com/en-GB/news/2020/wsp-launches-london-net-zero-manifesto We have also collaborated with a focused suite of other advocacy groups, including the UK-GBC, HBF and the Supply Chain Sustainability School – each of which has offered fresh and diverse perspective which have proven invaluable for helping guide our policies as a business.

The true challenge for housebuilders lies in taking the raft of policy and regulation, as well as our own ESG goals, and marrying them with the creation of quality homes that meet the demands of buyers, and create resilient places for future generations. I look forward to seeing what the future holds; and to driving Telford Homes’ contribution to the nation’s green revolution.