New environmental roadmap developed for homebuilders

UK homebuilders have backed a new Government-led plan to ensure that new builds are zero-carbon ready by 2025 as well as improving biodiversity and reducing waste.

Businesses have been tasked with aligning to the ambitions of Race to Zero

Businesses have been tasked with aligning to the ambitions of Race to Zero

The plan, agreed through the Future Homes Task Force, commits UK housebuilders, suppliers and regulators involved in the built environment sector to reach a wide set of new environmental goals.

Headline goals included in the plan are to deliver high-quality homes that are zero carbon ready and sustainable, that developments are considered “nature rich” and healthy – both by 2025 - and that production and construction of buildings are net-zero by 2050.

The Task Force’s co-chair Neil Jefferson said: “The Government has set out a clear legal framework for tackling climate change and restoring the natural world. Meeting these targets means a wholesale change in how we design and build homes for future generations. This is a challenge we are committed to tackling head on.

“Today’s launch sees the sector taking leadership of the agenda. The broad range of stakeholders involved will hold each other to account and ensure we deliver on this vital agenda as quickly and effectively as is possible. We want to ensure that we build on the huge progress made so far and deliver world-leading, environmentally friendly, high-quality housing.”

Additionally, businesses have been tasked with aligning to the ambitions of Race to Zero, by setting a 50% emissions reduction target for 2030.

Currently, almost one in three FTSE100 companies have signed up to the UN's Race to Zero campaign, which commits corporates to setting more ambitious targets in line with climate science and to using their reach to encourage climate action across their networks.

The new plan also builds on the recent ‘nature positive commitment announced by the Government earlier in the year. The commitment was issued in a formal written response to the Dasgupta Review on valuing biodiversity.

There will be, the Treasury has promised, a new set of recommendations for departments across Whitehall to consider when developing policies. For certain sectors, including housebuilding and major infrastructure projects, there will be advice on delivering net gain for nature. 

The plan will also encourage housebuilders to collaborate with suppliers, infrastructure planners and conservation specialists to deliver the targets. The Government claims it is the first sector-wide plan in the country to account for carbon emissions, nature and air quality and resources and waste.

In order to deliver the plan, a new specialised “hub” will be launched in September, with support from the Government. The Hub will potentially develop new metrics and targets, with a particular focus on helping SME businesses.

Net-zero construction

The targets and hub build on the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) plan to help the sector reach net-zero emissions as part of the wider national target.

The CLC, which is co-chaired by Minister for Business and Industry, Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has published a Construct Zero Performance Framework, following consultation with industry, with more than 2,500 comments received to shape the framework.

It outlines measures to accelerate domestic retrofitting, moving away from diesel generators and reduce energy from production as methods to help the sector reach net-zero.

The new framework has numerous targets with different deadlines, all of which are designed to help reach net-zero emissions. By 2035, for example, 78% of diesel plants are to be eliminated from construction sites.

From 2025, planning applications from the sector must connect to public transport and included electric vehicle (EV) charging if parking is provided. All new buildings will be designed with low-carbon heating solutions by the same deadline. Also by 2025, new homes and buildings will minimise energy demand and reduce emissions in operation by 75% for dwellings and 27% for commercial buildings compared to today’s levels.

The CLC will also work with Government to deliver retrofitting to 27 million homes by 2040. The Council will also offer the chance for clients to become net-zero by offering new design options by 2022 and by 2035, the CLC will have reduced construction product emissions by 66% from 2018 levels

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “As we drive forward our plan for the UK to meet its 2050 net-zero target, we are determined to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and reduce carbon emissions in a way that is fair and affordable to everyone.

“I welcome the work of the Future Homes Task Force, which has brought together leaders across the fields that contribute to and influence homebuilding and has created this roadmap for meeting these challenges. It is right that the industry is stepping up to play a leadership role here: delivery and innovation to meet the challenges requires common purpose and partnerships that are being formed. The Delivery Hub will provide support across industry to ensure successful implementation of the Future Homes Standard.”

Matt Mace



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