Taylor Wimpey targets nature net-gain under new sustainability strategy
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has published an updated environment strategy, with headline targets including science-based emissions reductions and a commitment to increase habitat at all new sites.
On climate, the firm has published new goals approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C pathway. These include reducing the emissions intensity of operations by 36%, against a 2019 baseline, and reducing the emissions intensity of supply chains and buildings in use by 24% by 2030, again, against a 2019 baseline.
To help deliver the target for operational emissions, Taylor Wimpey has committed to purchase 100% renewable electricity for all new sites and to increase the deployment of other low-carbon solutions during development, such as solar hybrid generators. Generators are a hard-to-abate source of emissions for constructors but firms across the sector are beginning to scale up alternatives.
As for emissions from building use, the firm is targeting 26,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points for residents this decade and is in the process of developing requirements to make homes more water-efficient and lower waste.
Nature is another key focus for the strategy. It details a commitment to increase natural habitat on all new development sites and to “add additional wildlife enhancements” where needed. These include bird and bat boxes, bug hotels, wildlife ponds and hedgehog pathways which the housebuilder is working with charities including Buglife, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species to deliver.
Taylor Wimpey claims that the strategy in its entirety, called ‘Building A Better World’, is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs referenced in the strategy document cover issues such as health and wellbeing, water and sanitation, economic growth, climate change, sustainable cities and land-based habitats.
“We’re proud to create places that will be enjoyed by generations of people for decades and even centuries to come - yet today, younger generations face an uncertain future and the scale of the environmental crisis has never been more apparent,” Taylor Wimpey’s chief executive Pete Redfern said. “As a responsible business, we want to act.”
The built environment is one of the UK’s most-emitting sectors and, as such, is a key hurdle on the road to net-zero. Many of the sector’s biggest businesses have set climate targets that go further and faster than the national legal requirement and are now working with bodies such as the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) to coordinate delivery.
From the policy piece, the Heat and Buildings Strategy is expected in the coming weeks. The Government has already updated legislation for new build homes from 2025, mandating stricter energy efficiency and biodiversity requirements.
Many green groups are hoping that these moves will be built upon, especially in light of the upcoming 15th biodiversity COP and 26th climate COP.
In the meantime, trade body the National House Building Council has published guidance on how housebuilders can incorporate green infrastructure on sites in a way that maximises biodiversity benefits, wellbeing benefits for residents and broader public health. The document, supported by the RSPB and Barratt Developments, provides advice on infrastructure including sustainable drainage systems, green boundaries and homes for species including bats, birds and hedgehogs.
The Council’s head of standards, innovation and research, Richard Smith, said: “In a year so focused on health, this report is a timely reminder of the many benefits nature can provide when successfully integrated into new homes and developments.
“As we head towards COP26, we want to support those in the housing and construction sector to think more about how they can better integrate biodiversity and climate resilience into new home developments to help to achieve the country’s climate change goals and improve health and wellbeing in local communities. Biodiversity Net Gain will soon become mandatory in England so there’s no excuse not to start looking at these issues now.”