Our approach to sustainability

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Sustainable places and communities

Sustainable places
We strive to build environmentally sensitive places where residents can live a sustainable lifestyle. We focus on brownfield sites, with scope for good public transport, and seek to create places that are resilient to climate change and have more biodiversity than they had before.

Creating communities
We engage the local community in the design of our developments and continue to use our toolkit, Creating Successful Places, on new developments as a framework for applying the ideas that can lead to future residents experiencing a great quality of life. As customers move in, we build relationships to understand what initiatives and activities we can help facilitate to deliver thriving communities. A key mechanism for this is the production of community plans, which we have on a variety of developments to explore structured ways to build community, foster community governance and encourage placekeeping.

Sustainable living
To help homeowners live sustainably we incorporate a range of features into developments, from water efficient and energy efficient fittings and fixtures, to recycling facilities, cycle storage and electric car charging points. See our Sustainability Living Tool to find out more about the measures we have taken to encourage sustainable lifestyles. We also include information in all Living Guides that enables occupants to understand and operate their home efficiently and make the best use of local facilities.


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Nature and biodiversity

Net biodiversity gain
We recognise the importance of protecting and enhancing biodiversity and believe that new developments can create places with more nature afterwards than before through providing higher quality habitats and more biodiversity; on every new site we are committed to creating a net biodiversity gain.

We use The Nine Concepts: making space for nature and beauty, developed in conjunction with The Ecology Consultancy, to inform our approach and work with ecologists, landscape architects and Local Wildlife Trusts to ensure that the right habitats are incorporated into the design so that there is more nature afterwards than before. Find out more here.

Sustainable timber
We are committed to ensuring that the timber we use is sustainably sourced. Our Sustainable Specification and Procurement Policy requires all timber to be certified to either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes and has a strong preference for all wood-based products to be either FSC or PEFC certified. Certification provides us with the reassurance that timber delivered to our sites is sourced sustainably.

In addition to being certified, we seek to ensure that timber has full Chain of Custody. Chain of Custody documentation can be complex, and further work has been undertaken to support teams in ensuring that the correct documentation and Chain of Custody is in place. This includes a tracker to monitor Chain of Custody, and a procedure to help identify breaks and to ensure due diligence is taken so that non-certified timber is not used in the homes and developments that we build.


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Climate action

Mitigating climate change
We recognise the role business must play in tackling global climate change and are delighted to have become the first carbon positive housebuilder in 2018. Following our leading approach in 2018, we continue to achieve carbon positive operations, offsetting more emissions than we produce.

We also recognise the role that developers must play in building homes that are sustainable now and in the future. We have committed to creating a transition plan for each new development to enable them to operate at net zero carbon by 2030.

For further details on our approach to Carbon Positive and Net Zero Carbon Homes, please see the Energy and Carbon section.

Adapting to climate change
With climate change we are expected to experience more extreme weather patterns, including wetter winters, hotter summers and more frequent heat waves. We are focused on addressing the risks most relevant to the design of our developments: flooding, water shortage and overheating. We seek to build homes where people can live comfortably in the future.

We design in a number of features to increase resilience to these impacts, such as sustainable drainage systems, rainwater harvesting and measures to help ensure thermal comfort. We respond to the industry-wide issue of overheating by using a risk assessment methodology on all new sites. As part of our approach to reduce the effects of climate change, we also incorporate green infrastructure such as open space, parks, gardens and living roofs.


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Energy and carbon

Carbon positive
In May 2016, Berkeley targeted a 10% reduction in 2018 emissions compared to 2016 levels and committed to become carbon positive. We surpassed this target, becoming the first carbon positive housebuilder in 2018, and continue to achieve carbon positive operations, offsetting more emissions than we produce.

We have increased our understanding of energy consumption across our day-to-day activities and issued guidance on addressing out of hours electricity consumption, together with minimum energy efficiency recommendations for site set up and operation. At the same time as taking action to reduce energy consumption, the use of energy from renewable sources has been encouraged. We offset more than our remaining emissions to help mitigate climate change and to be carbon positive.

Net zero carbon homes
Within our homes and developments, we incorporate clean and renewable technologies and promote the installation of energy efficient appliances. Of the homes completed in 2018/19, 72% are to be supplied with energy from low carbon or renewable technology.

We want to enable our developments to achieve net zero operational emissions in the future. Therefore, we have committed to producing a transition plan for each new development to operate at net zero carbon by 2030. This commitment will ensure that our residents can use sustainable energy sources and will help to lower their energy use. We were also a founding signatory to the World Green Building Council's commitment to deliver Net Zero Carbon Buildings by 2030 and are a partner of the UK Green Building Council's Advancing Net Zero programme.


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Responsible resource use

Responsible operations
The Berkeley Group is targeting a 6% reduction in water consumption per person and a 14% reduction in carbon emissions per person in 2019/20 (compared to a 2015/16 baseline) across its site, office and sales activities. We are also targeting year-on-year reductions in paper use.

Each site is registered to the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) and is independently assessed. Our average audit score was 43/50 in 2018/19, demonstrating performance beyond the industry average of 36/50.

We are proud to have zero environmental prosecutions.

Waste and plastics
We are taking action to reduce waste and tackle key waste issues areas through design, procurement and behaviour change. We seek to better understand the waste streams produced by our activities and are working with our supply chain to identify opportunities to improve and to develop a zero waste strategy. We are pleased to have reused or recycled 95% of our construction waste in 2018/19.

Responsible supply chain
We recognise that we have a significant impact through the use of a vast number of products and services in the homes and places that we create. The products are sourced from a global marketplace so we have a responsibility to understand these supply chains. Through careful consideration and management of our supply chain we seek to reduce any negative impacts and have a positive impact where possible. To ensure our materials are responsibly sourced we are working to develop further information for the business on key materials and require all timber to be certified, and preferentially select only certified wood-based products.

We also encourage our contractors to use resources responsibly, and were the first housebuilder to become a partner of the Supply Chain Sustainability School's 'Homes' School, which provides a wealth of free resources for suppliers to help them reduce the environmental impacts of their products and services.

Encouraging residents
We encourage residents to use resources responsibly and provide all homes with Living Guides which include information on saving energy, saving water, purchasing responsibly and recycling.


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Health and wellbeing

Healthy workplaces
As individuals spend a notable amount of time in the workplace we have the potential to significantly influence the wellbeing of our employees. Through Our Vision commitments which focus on mental health and healthy workplaces, we seek to improve the quality of life of our employees and improve employee satisfaction and productivity. Health and wellbeing programmes are in operation across our autonomous operating companies.

Safe workplaces
We also want to ensure our workplaces are safe and continue to aspire to have incident and injury free operations.

Over the last ten years we have worked extremely hard to ensure that all our contractors, suppliers and partners share our commitment to promoting safe and healthy work practices. As a result, we have seen a year-on-year reduction in the number of incidents.

Healthy homes
We also seek to develop homes and places that enable our residents to lead healthy and happy lives, and have a commitment through Our Vision to launch a design framework to contribute to the wellbeing of our customers. We provide walking and cycling routes, cycle storage and, in 2014, were the first private developer to commit to minimum space standards. We hope that our residents will also benefit from our work to enhance biodiversity, as nature can make people feel relaxed and happy and create a sense of identity and belonging.


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Skills and employment 

Addressing the skills crisis
We consider the skills crisis to be one of the most significant risks facing the industry and believe we have a role to play in encouraging new people into the industry and upskilling the workforce. We are a client member of Build UK, which we see as playing a vital role in reversing the current trend of more people leaving the industry than joining it.

We aim to provide a variety of routes through which people seeking to improve their skills can join the business, including through apprenticeships, industrial placements and graduate schemes.

By working closely with our contractors, we have significantly increased the amount of training within our workforce. In 2018/19, more than 500 apprentices worked across our sites and offices, including over 150 direct apprentices. We were pleased to be able to recognise some of the great work which is being achieved in this area at the Berkeley Apprenticeship Awards.

Responsible employment
Berkeley supports, on average, 29,250 jobs each year directly and through its supply chain. Attracting, developing and retaining a talented and diverse workforce which operates in a safe, healthy and supportive working environment, is imperative to our business. We are committed to paying employees at least the Living Wage Foundation's Living Wage and aim to provide the right environment and support to enable them to fulfil their potential.

We take action to ensure that slavery and human trafficking does not take place within our business and throughout our supply chain. Further details on actions taken to combat modern slavery can be found on our website.


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Respect and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion
The industry is known for its lack of diversity and we believe there are real benefits in ensuring diverse views, skills and perspectives which can lead to creative thinking and more effective problem solving.

We seek to attract and retain a diverse workforce. To help us achieve this, we will develop guiding principles for diversity and inclusion, to be applied by each of our autonomous companies. This will be supplemented by a range of additional activities, which could include a wider review of our policies, processes and procedures to ensure we create an inclusive environment.

Our Gender Pay Gap Report is published on our website.

Living wage
There is a disparity between the national living wage and the 'real' living wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, which is the amount needed for employees and their families to live on. As a major employer, we recognise both business and societal benefits in paying the living wage and are committed to paying employees the Living Wage Foundation's Living Wage.