It’s been clear for some time that there is an urgent shortage of housing supply in the UK, and that more new homes need to be built. Britain’s largest housebuilder, Barratt Developments, delivered nearly 18,000 homes in 2018, a market leading slice of the 240,000 properties that were added to the housing stock in 2018/9.
With growing concerns about climate change now resonating everywhere, it is pleasing to hear that Barratt are putting environmentalism at the heart of their business, recognising the importance of prioritising environmental stewardship and long-term sustainability among governments, businesses and individuals.
In a recent interview, a company spokesman explained that safeguarding the environment forms one of its five core principles, with sustainability embedded at every level of the business. While house building companies can be viewed negatively in terms of their perceived detrimental impact on the environment, it’s good to see that Barratt are taking active steps to mitigate and even reverse their environmental impact. Undoubtedly, there are valuable lessons to be learnt for everyone in the industry.
Examples of ‘green’ initiatives
Let’s take a closer look at Barratt Developments’ recent activity in this field:
One example is Barratt’s partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), working together to produce valuable guidance for developers to increase biodiversity and implement wildlife friendly features into homes and neighbourhoods, including bat boxes, hedgehog highways, and providing nesting points for swifts.
Kingsbrook in Aylesbury Vale, Barratt’s partnership flagship development, was featured in the government’s 25-year Environment Plan as an excellent example of how to put nature at the heart of residential housing development. The government has subsequently pledged to make a ‘biodiversity net gain’ mandatory on all new developments, improving the overall quality of new housing developments.
Barratt also set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2025, a target that was reached two years ago. They achieved this by way of upgrading the design of their site compounds to enable them to reduce vehicle usage, forklift travel time and diesel consumption, and by making site cabins more energy efficient.
A waste reduction target of 20% by 2025 was also set in 2015. To date, 15% has been achieved, largely as a result of an individual exercise at Saxon Gate near York that involved waste separation, monitoring, measuring and weighing during the construction process of one of the houses, which could then be used as a blueprint to change Barratt’s processes to reduce unnecessary waste.
Energy efficient builds
When it comes to energy efficient homes, 98% of the company’s house types are designed to EPC standard B or higher, exceeding building regulations in air-tightness, glazing and insulation. Barratt Developments are committed to a ‘fabric first’ approach to energy efficiency improvements, maximising the performance of building components prior to considering mechanical or electrical solutions.
Of course, the best way to mitigate the environmental impact associated with house building is to deliver high quality homes in the first place. New houses that are built to last and don’t require expensive retrofitting or rebuilding constitute a considerable long-term saving in terms of time, money and energy resources.
Barratt Homes are rightly proud to have built more Built for Life accredited developments than the rest of the industry put together, having been rated 5 stars for 10 consecutive years. It is undeniable that building high quality homes is also what homebuyers demand.
What can we learn?
For those of us in the residential development industry, there is no doubt that climate change presents a real challenge that we simply cannot ignore. As the above Barratt Developments showcase illustrates clearly, it is not only possible but highly desirable to prioritise environmental standards without compromising on quality. This can be achieved by taking a creative approach and a long-term view of embedding sustainable practices into residential construction.
As premier land use and property development consultants in the residential redevelopment market in the South East, Land & Brand New Homes are perfectly placed to advise on all areas of land acquisition and the strategic promotion of residential land through the planning system. We work with developers and independent third parties on immediate and strategic acquisitions to meet the growing demand for UK housing, and would be delighted to receive your enquiry.