Berkeley to become first carbon positive UK housebuilder

9th May 2016

Berkeley to become first carbon positive UK housebuilder

In a landmark announcement for the housing industry, Berkeley today commits to becoming the first major housebuilder in Britain to become carbon positive.
Over the next two years it will aim to deliver a 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions per person and set an internal carbon price, using the funds generated to offset more than all of  the remaining carbon emissions.

Announcing the ambitious new target, Berkeley's Managing Director Rob Perrins explained the thinking behind their decision: 

He said: "We are committing to becoming the UK's first carbon positive listed housebuilder.
The climate change negotiations in Paris made it very clear that business has to lead on this issue. 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.

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 announcement comes as the FTSE 100 company reveals the next phase of its long-term business strategy, called Our Vision. This involves a set of 10 new commitments designed to drive the business forward. These apply to all its brands including Berkeley, St James, St Edward, St George and St William.

Over the next two years, for example, Berkeley will:

  • have 1,500 people undertaking an apprenticeship or vocational training
  • take a lead in community development, implementing plans to improve people's quality of life in all the places it builds 
  • introduce an approach to deliver a net biodiversity gain across its sites, ensuring that new development positively contributes to the environment
  • trial 'smart home' technology to ensure the places where we live are better connected 

Talking about 'smart homes', Rob Perrins, added: "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."

Berkeley's commitment to support apprentices and training comes as the UK construction industry faces a massive skills shortage, which could be further exacerbated by Brexit.

A recent study by KPMG and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry suggests that 20% more construction managers, surveyors and site workers will be needed by 2018. Meanwhile, the Government has announced that all large employers will now be expected to make use of apprenticeships as a key part of their workforce development strategies.

In response, Berkeley is committing to recruit and train more people of all ages, giving them the skills required to pursue and build on a successful career in construction. Depending on production levels, up to 15% of Berkeley's workforce will be in an apprenticeship or completing vocational training by 2018. For comparison, building the whole of Crossrail is creating 500 apprenticeships and a number of construction companies are members of the 5% Club, which aims to have this percentage of the workforce made up of apprentices, sponsored students or graduates on formalised schemes within five years.

Notes to Editors

  • 'Our Vision' is Berkeley's plan for the business. It was launched in 2010 by Rob Perrins, the company's Managing Director. Its goal is to make Berkeley a world class business, generating long-term value by creating successful, sustainable places.
  • The Berkeley Group is making 10 new commitments for the period 2016-18 as part of this corporate plan:
  1. Customers
    • Deliver world-class customer service as evidenced by a top quartile Net Promoter Score compared to UK Customer Satisfaction Index results.
    • Run a programme of engagement and research to further enhance our product and processes based on the needs of our customers.
  2. Homes
    • Design our homes to consider future climate change to ensure continued thermal comfort.
    • Understand the evolution of smart technology and connectivity in homes and on developments.
  3. Places
    • Implement community plans on our developments to facilitate thriving communities.
    • Develop and apply an approach to ensure that all new developments create a net biodiversity gain.
  4. Operations
    • Reduce our operational carbon emissions intensity by 10% and introduce a programme to become carbon positive.
    • Ensure at least 1,500 people across our direct and indirect workforce undertake an apprenticeship or vocational training.
  5. Our People
    • Launch and implement a new programme to promote the wellbeing of our staff and create healthy workplaces.
    • Invest in training and development through our talent management programmes to realise the potential of our people across all areas of the business.
  • Over the last 5 years, Berkeley has built a total of 17,750 homes. This is 60% higher than in 2010 and 18% above the market peak in 2007.
  • Berkeley supported a total of 26,000 jobs in 2015. This has more than doubled over the last 5 years (up 130%), compared with a 7% growth in employment across London and the South East over the same period.
  • Berkeley's contribution to UK GDP was £2.1 billion in 2015, up 40% from 2014 and the 7th consecutive year of growth. 
  • The total tax paid by the Berkeley Group in 2015 was £571m, an increase of 168% from 2011. Over the last 5 years, Berkeley has contributed a total of £1.8bn to the Treasury through direct and wider taxation.
  • More than £7.5m has been committed by the Berkeley Foundation to over 70 charities since 2011, with more than £2.5m raised by Berkeley staff. 
  • We have less than three safety incidents per 1,000 staff each year across all our sites. In the past year we also awarded the first tranche of grants from our £2 million Innovation Fund, the first of its kind designed to find new ways of making building sites safer and healthier places to work.

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