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The green revolution starts at home

Barratt’s zero-carbon community at Hanham Hall, near Bristol | Credit : Barratt Developments

David Thomas, Chief Executive

David Thomas, Chief Executive | Barratt Developments PLC

4 min read Partner content

In order to deliver a greener Britain everyone must play their part. Barratt will strive to lead the way, building sustainable new homes and neighhourhoods.

We have reached a critical inflection point in the fight against climate change. The pandemic has placed the spotlight on where we live and work, underlining the need to tackle both geographic and generational inequality and deliver a low carbon, green economic recovery.

Housebuilders can help deliver a greener Britain. High quality, truly sustainable neighbourhoods will support the UK towards its climate goals, create opportunity and help build a fairer society.

Policymakers can help set the direction. There’s good work being done across government, and the Future Homes Standard in particular will drive a step-change in how we build and how our customers live in their homes – but we need more detail on the transition today, as well as that bold vision for the future.

A long-term, cross-sector roadmap, incorporating elements such as the UK’s future energy strategy, would enable the market to make the best decisions, investing and innovating as required, between now and 2050.

However, this is clearly not just a challenge for government. Every business needs to take responsibility to tackle climate change.

The construction industry will see greater change over the next decade than it has for the previous fifty years. It will not be easy, but as the UK’s largest housebuilder we have already started our journey towards building zero carbon homes at a scale that few others can match.

We have a strong track record too, from the zero carbon ‘Green House’ at the BRE Innovation Park to sustainable communities at the unique Hanham Hall near Bristol or at Derwenthorpe in York (image below). Last year, we became the first major housebuilder to set science-based carbon reduction targets – targets aligned to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C trajectory – and joined the UN’s global Race to Zero campaign.

The customer must be at the heart of our plans and the homes of the future will need to be aspirational, accessible and affordable for everyone.

We’re committed to becoming a net zero business by 2040 and all our homes – and we were building around 18,000 homes a year before the pandemic – will be zero carbon from 2030.

To get there we need to innovate, test new technology and develop the talent we’ll need. This month we’re starting work on a prototype zero carbon, wildlife-friendly home that will surpass the government’s Future Homes Standard in 2025 and could be built at pace and scale. We’ll trial innovative construction techniques, as well as a range of smart and sustainable technologies. Some trials will succeed, some will not – but all will move us forward.

Importantly, people will live in the home, so we will not only monitor the building’s  performance, but also better understand the experience of zero carbon living. The customer must be at the heart of our plans and the homes of the future will need to be aspirational, accessible and affordable for everyone.

Time is limited, but building sustainable homes on a national scale requires careful planning and strong collaboration with supply chains. Key industries, along with the skills required to make, fit and maintain essential products, will be critical. We are working with our supply chain to help create certainty and support them as they scale up.  No one can achieve this transition alone, and these industries need support so they’re ready to meet the demands of 300,000 new homes a year, while also tackling the millions of inefficient existing properties across the country.

Finally, all parts of the housing market will need to work together. Planners need to be well-resourced, with clear, consistent carbon standards. Green mortgages and similar financial products must become more commonplace, rewarding customers who make the move to a sustainable home.

I have always believed that creating a positive environmental, social and economic legacy for future generations goes to the centre of quality housebuilding and quality business. Barratt is clear on the destination and we will strive to lead the way.

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