Berkeley Homes, one of the UK’s most renowned developers of new homes, recently announced its intentions to become the UK’s first carbon positive major housebuilder.
The Berkeley Group have outlined the following targets for the next two years:
Berkeley’s Managing Director, Rob Perrins, cited the Paris COP21 Talks and the resulting international climate change agreement – the ‘Paris Agreement’ – as a key driver behind the initiative:
“The climate change negotiations in Paris made it very clear that business has to lead on this issue. From this point, Berkeley will reduce our carbon emissions intensity by 10%, encourage the use of green energy tariffs, and invest in projects that reduce or eliminate emissions elsewhere, for example by investing in renewable energy or the retrofit of existing homes, to go beyond offsetting our remaining emissions.”
The output of the Paris Agreement was threefold: a long-term goal of net-zero emissions; a programme to review progress and increase ambition at regular intervals, and a framework for climate finance.
For Berkeley, and for Perrins, the decision to become carbon positive was an obvious one:
“There is a strong commercial case for making a business more lean, green and accountable. And in my opinion it’s simply the right thing to do.”
What is ‘Carbon Positive’?
In order to realise a long-term solution to climate change, housebuilders and other construction companies must aim to eliminate, or substantially reduce, the amount of carbon they emit into the atmosphere. One way of achieving this is by creating carbon zero or carbon positive homes.
Achieving carbon neutrality (or being carbon zero) relies on attaining net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount offset. Being carbon positive, however, goes beyond this. To be carbon positive, additional ‘positive’ – or ‘net export’– contributions must be made. This is done by producing more energy on site than the building requires and feeding it back to the grid.
The benefits of carbon neutral homes are plentiful, whether for the housebuilder, the homeowner or the environment:
The carbon positive announcement for Berkeley aligned with the announcement of their ‘Our Vision’ initiative, the next phase of their long-term business plan, which outlines 10 new commitments designed to drive the business forward. One of the stated commitments, which could compliment the use of green tariffs within the ‘carbon positive’ initiative, is to trial ‘smart home’ technology to ‘ensure the places where we live are better connected.’
On ‘smart home’ technology, Perrins commented: “In today’s world, customers see access to a good internet connection as a basic entitlement. Berkeley already equips all new homes with fibre optic infrastructure. We now want to be the leaders in providing high-quality, smart-enabled, future-proof homes that make the everyday lives of our customers easier.”
A Clear Landscape
Carbon zero is currently a major focus in construction throughout the UK and, such as with global construction firm Carillion recently announcing profits of £33 million through their sustainability actions, it is clearly being demonstrated that increased profitability and reduced environmental impact can sit side-by-side. Additionally, with one of newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s policies being to maintain The London Plan’s commitment to zero-carbon housing, it seems also that carbon zero and carbon positive construction will line the political landscape in the coming years.
Berkeley’s landmark announcement in committing to becoming the first major carbon positive housebuilder in Britain goes a long way to presenting the housing sector as a carbon conscious industry and, through a combination of innovative and environmentally mindful initiatives, Berkeley is cementing itself as an organisation truly at the forefront of this.