UK's largest housebuilder sets 1.5C-aligned emissions targets

Barratt Development has committed to reducing direct and indirect carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement's more ambitious 1.5C trajectory.

The UK Green Building Council supported Barratt through its target development

The UK Green Building Council supported Barratt through its target development

The British firm, which built almost 18,000 homes last year, has pledged to reduce direct (Scope 1 and Scope 2) emissions by 29% by 2025 and cut indirect (Scope 3) emissions by 11% by 2030.

Both targets are set against a 2018 baseline.

Barratt Developments said that reaching its new direct emissions target will mean a reduction in diesel use by vehicles and generators.

Regarding indirect emissions, the firm is promising homes with lower levels of embodied carbon and which are more energy-efficient, in line with the Government’s upcoming Future Homes Standard. The Standard is currently under consultation and will mandate housebuilders to fit triple glazing, buildings fabrics that limit heat loss, low-carbon heating systems and onsite generation assets in new builds.

Barratt Developments claims it is the first major UK housebuilder to set approved 1.5C targets and said in a statement that it “believes every business needs to take responsibility to tackle climate change”. According to the IPCC, tackling climate change requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030 and come down to zero by 2050.

“As the country’s largest housebuilder, Barratt is taking a very positive step by being the first major housebuilder to publicly set science-based targets for reducing carbon emissions,” UKGBC boss Julie Hirigoyen said.

“It’s vital that companies take responsibility for their impacts and how they operate as businesses. We would like to see many more do it, building on the 30% of FTSE companies that have some form of science-based target.”

Last year, UKGBC published a framework outlining how developers, designers, owners, occupiers and policymakers can define and deliver a net-zero built environment. It is supporting firms to deliver net-zero operational building emissions by 2030 and fully carbon neutral businesses by mid-century.

Bringing climate home

The built environment sector as a whole is regarded as one of the UK’s hardest-to-abate sectors, accounting for around 40% of national annual energy consumption and 33% of national annual emissions.

Moreover, the UK Government has repeatedly been criticised for failing to deliver policy support for the decarbonisation of homes. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has repeatedly pointed out that homes accounted for 14% of total UK emissions in 2017, with particular challenges around fuel poverty and decarbonising heat persisting.

The Future Homes Standard came in the wake of the net-zero target being enshrined in law. Further policy changes earmarked for introduction include a requirement for all rented commercial building to be required to operate at a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC band B by 2030; and the introduction of mandatory “in-use” energy performance ratings for all business buildings

But concerns remain around support for decarbonising the UK’s existing stock of homes through retrofitting. Subsidies and grants for activities like insulation have been dwindling in recent years, according to the CCC.

Sarah George



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