9 December

Commited to reporting on sustainability to increase our delivery of affordable homes

We are one of the first housing associations to adopt a new sustainability reporting standard.

We are one of the first housing associations to adopt a new sustainability reporting standard which will enable us to unlock Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) funding to build more affordable housing helping to tackle the UK’s deepening housing crisis.

The standard will provide us with the opportunity to report on our ESG performance in a transparent, consistent and comparable way making it easier for lenders and investors to assess the ESG performance of housing providers, identify ESG risks and opportunities to create positive social and environmental outcomes.  

We are one of 70 organisations that has committed to report against the standard on an annual basis. The Standard covers 48 criteria across ESG considerations such as affordability, fire safety and net zero carbon emissions.

Andrew Hart our Director of Corporate Finance, said: “We want the Sustainability Reporting Standard to drive environmental improvements and help make our approach and performance even more transparent to stakeholders.

With our plans to build 6,000 homes in the next five years across the South West it will help to increase the flow of private capital to the social housing sector.” 

The final report, detailing the Standard and the criteria, can be found at www.esgsocialhousing.co.uk

Recently we announced that we are aiming to beat the government’s target of boosting the energy efficiency of homes after partnering with the University of Exeter to launch a new environmental strategy.

Central to our energy efficiency drive, we are targeting that all of our existing homes reach an Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) rating of band C and above by 2028 – two years ahead of the proposed government target of 2030.

Managing over 37, 000 homes across the region, we are one of the first housing associations in the country to have launched an environmental blueprint with measurable targets.  

The increased EPC rating will reduce carbon emissions and support the government’s ambition for the nation to become carbon neutral by 2050.  This runs alongside our core ambition to provide homes, support our customers and address fuel poverty.

We have also committed to delivering our new homes to EPC band high B/low A using an enhanced fabric first approach to ensure our homes outperform current building regulations, reducing energy demand and carbon emissions. 

We are also taking steps to futureproof our new homes by installing the infrastructure that can accommodate heat pumps at a later date to provide an alternative to a fossil-fuel based heating system. 

We plan to gradually move away from gas and oil heating systems to electric-based systems in order to benefit from the National Grid’s drive to become greener in how it generates electricity.

We also originally targeted a 20% reduction in paper consumption over the next 12 months and a 10% reduction of business mileage year on year for the next three years. 

But with current working patterns having changed following the outbreak of coronavirus, we are considering setting more challenging targets.

Melvyn Garrett, our Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We place sustainability at the heart of our organisation and we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our activities to create a clean and sustainable future for our customers, colleagues and our families.  

“With local councils declaring climate emergencies across the South West and, as the largest housing provider in this region, we wanted to renew our environmental commitments in order to embed sustainability across the organisation and to assist our local authority partners to achieve the goals outlined in their Climate Action Plans. 

“For us, this is about improving the energy efficiency of our homes, either through building new sustainable properties or by refurbishing existing ones.

“We have set ourselves measurable targets, increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and promoting sustainable behaviour change for both customers and colleagues which all contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

“We aim to promote sustainable solutions working with our joint venture partners to help them to meet their needs but also to contribute to creating a low-carbon economy and support thriving, vibrant communities.

“These steps demonstrate our commitment to protecting the environment for today and the future.”

Sustainable approaches run through the design of our offices with our purpose-built head office in Exeter connected to the local district heating network and constructed with energy efficiency in mind.

Our award-winning office in Tolvaddon, Cornwall, has an air source heat pump heating system, while all three offices, including our newly-refurbished premises in Weston-super-Mare, have charging points for electric vehicles.

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