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Is the housebuilding industry doing enough on climate change?

We know that the vast majority (>95%) of housebuilder carbon emissions stem from their homes being used (i.e. heating/lighting/hot water etc.) and their supply chain. In the short-medium term these will reduce dramatically, in-line with science-based expectations, simply by alignment with the Future Homes Standard (i.e. Building Regulations). But what are housebuilders doing about their direct, scope 1&2 emissions? These may not be as significant but reducing these is not a regulatory requirement, so it’s these reduction targets that really demonstrate a company’s commitment to climate change mitigation.

We reviewed the targets of 10 of the largest housebuilders:

  • Only one company, Bloor Homes, has no scope 1 and 2 emission reduction targets.

  • 4 companies have net zero targets (Persimmon, Barratt, Berkley and Redrow), albeit Redrow’s is for 10 years after the others (2050 vs 2040).

  • 7 companies have near-term targets aligned or verified by the science-based target initiative.

  • 2 companies have reduction targets that are inadequate to meet science-based requirements to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (Redrow and Crest Nicholson, although Redrow has committed to setting a science-based target).

So what does this tell us?

As a whole, the housebuilding industry is much more progressive than many, with challenging and science-based targets seen in most companies. There are laggards (Bloor and Crest Nicholson in particular), but the biggest challenge is the lack of long-term, net zero targets.

Near-term targets will likely be met by relatively simple measures e.g. switching electricity supplies to renewable energy sources and/or business travel emission reduction, both requiring little investment. In contrast, to meet net zero, the more difficult and costly removal of on-site diesel (e.g. for generators, forklifts and tower cranes) will be required. Investment will be needed here and without more net zero targets being set, this may not happen quickly enough.

For help setting your carbon reduction targets and developing a practical reduction plan, contact Rawstone Consulting here.


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