We carefully consider the needs of our customers and the impact on the environment, both from the construction of our homes and from our homes in use. We take all reasonable measures to minimise our impact on the environment, whilst balancing the need to deliver affordable, quality homes.
The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, with around half of this being from “in-use” sources, such as heating, lighting, cooking and running appliances1.
This has reduced over the years as the UK moves towards decarbonising the electricity grid, with total in-use emissions having reduced by about a fifth since 1990 despite there being approximately a quarter more homes.2
This will continue with the government’s Future Homes Standard, with the first of these changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations setting new energy and ventilation requirements from 2025.
These changes will improve the energy performance of new homes, with homes being highly energy efficient, with low carbon heating and zero carbon ready by 2025.
We recognise the impact that the built environment has on carbon emissions, both from the construction of new homes and in-use emissions. We are working hard to reduce our carbon footprint and this strategic priority is part of our sustainable business strategy.
1. Source: UK Green Building Council.
2. Source: UK government press release - Rigorous new targets for
green building revolution (January 2021).
Gleeson and our supply chain generate an average of 45 tonnes of CO2e for every home built. We have been working closely with our supply chain to calculate embodied emissions more accurately with 62% of the emissions supported by Environmental Product Declarations. Total emissions for a Gleeson home range from 38 tonnes to 60 tonnes, depending on the house type and size. Based on our latest data and the mix of house types sold in the year, the average emissions for a Gleeson home was 45 tonnes. The methodology for these calculations has been independently verified by an external sustainability consulting expert.
We are working closely with our supply chain partners to identify alternative materials with lower embodied carbon without sacrificing quality. We started with clay bricks and identified that changing to concrete bricks could achieve a 49% reduction in CO2e when compared with clay. This year we built 52 homes using concrete bricks, including reconstituted stone. This equates to a carbon saving of 94 tCO2e on bricks alone. Whilst concrete bricks have significantly lower embodied carbon than clay bricks, concrete products still have high levels of embodied carbon, and we are continuing to evaluate lower-carbon alternatives.
As our supply chain catches up with understanding the carbon intensity in their own value chain, we will continue to request key material suppliers to disclose their environmental impact and carbon reduction plans and to offer lower-carbon alternatives. One of our key areas of focus will be on cement mortar that we source from a number of suppliers and is our number one contributor to carbon emissions.
Carbon emissions from scope 1 and 2 activities reduced from 2.05 tonnes of CO2e per home in 2021 to 1.86 in 2022, a decrease of 9% in the year and 26% since 2020 (adjusted for the impact of Covid-19). This puts us well on track to achieving our strategic target of reducing CO2e by 30% to 1.75 tonnes in the three years to 2023.
Whilst the carbon emissions from housebuilding are clearly significant at 45 tonnes per home sold, the emissions from our homes in use over 60 years contributes a further 109 tonnes of carbon emissions. We are looking at ways to reduce the in-use emissions for our customers through heating and energy efficiency.
The Future Homes Standard is designed to reduce the emissions over the lifetime of the house and this is being implemented by changes in building regulations. One significant change is the move away from gas-fired boilers in homes. Alternative technologies are being widely taken up and one of the most efficient is air source heat pumps. Our projections suggest that the Future Homes Standard will increase embodied emissions of building a home by 9 tonnes through the requirement of more materials however this is expected to reduce in-use emissions over the 60 year period by 69 tonnes saving an overall total of 60 tonnes. This assumes that there will be a wider decarbonisation of the electricity grid as the UK switches to more renewable energy sources.
Scope 1 and 2 Emissions target to reduce to 1.75 by 2023
of Homes achieving
EPC rating of B
of waste diverted
of timber from FSC or PEFC
Forklift trucks - We have now completed the transition of upgrading the forklifts on our sites to newer, more energy-efficient models, which has reduced CO2e from forklift trucks by 8%. This has generated a saving of 144 tonnes of CO2e this year.
Generator usage - Over the past two years we have significantly reduced our generator usage – which use diesel to power them – through more considered planning of on-site temporary facilities. In particular, we have changed the timing of our site build and sales activities in order to reduce generator usage, which has been a significant factor in the 26% reduction in CO2e over the past two years.
Biodiesel/HVO fuel – This year we trialled the use of hydro-treated vegetable oil (“HVO”) fuel as an alternative to red diesel and regular diesel on 14 sites. The outcome of this trial was encouraging, and we saved 143 tonnes of CO2e versus regular diesel and 154 tonnes of CO2e versus red diesel, equivalent to 93% and 94% respectively. Extrapolated across all our sites, this could generate potential savings of circa 2,000 tonnes of CO2e, reducing our CO2e per home built by 0.9 tonnes. Following this trial, we implemented a Group-wide fuel policy that promotes the use of HVO fuel where it is available at a reasonable price and will continue to monitor price, usage, and availability.
Eco-cabins – This year we trialled eco-cabins on seven new build sites. The eco-cabins consist of a number of energy-efficient features, including 100W solar panels to provide enough power for periods of low activity, supplemented by a small diesel generator for periods of peak usage, motion-activated lights, water-saving technologies, and battery charging systems that use less energy to charge. Our trial showed the eco-cabins generated a fuel saving of approximately 50 litres of diesel per week, equivalent to a carbon saving of approximately 126kg of CO2e per week. Our colleagues on the trial sites also reported that the eco-cabins are much quieter without having a noisy generator running continuously to provide power.
Our second largest carbon-emitting fuel is petrol and diesel for business mileage. To address this, we implemented a new company car policy this year to incentivise employees to choose low-emission and electric vehicles and placed a cap on vehicle carbon emissions. In addition, the new policy offers a significantly improved choice of vehicles to our colleagues, enhancing the company benefits. We will begin to see the positive impact of this change and the associated carbon emission savings more fully in 2023.