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Our Net Zero Pathway

Our Approach to Building Communities

By placing people, environment and communities at the heart of our decision-making process, we build sustainable communities that last and flourish. To ensure that everyone's needs remain central, we follow the Countryside Building Communities approach on every project, from master-planning and design, through to building and aftercare, working closely with communities and stakeholders throughout the development journey.

Building Communities sets out our four key principles of Empowerment, Engagement, Partnership and Stewardship. By consistently embedding this approach across all our developments, we stay true to our values and maximize socio-economic value for the communities we’re here to support.

Net Zero Direction

Countryside’s purpose is to create places where people love to live, with sustainable communities built to last. Climate change is society’s greatest challenge and one of the most significant risks to the future of the construction industry. Solving this challenge will require everyone to act with a much greater sense of urgency.

Our target is to be Net Zero by 2030.  Our strategy and science-based carbon targets provide our people and partners with a clear pathway to achieving our goals.

Our Pathway to Net Zero is knitted together by three tenets:

  1. The need to modernise construction- we need to transform the ways in which we conceive, plan and build our new homes and communities, if we are going to make them and Countryside truly net zero
  2. The value of strong partnerships- partnerships are a key principle of our approach to Building Communities. Effective partnerships that address common challenges and mutually beneficial net zero opportunities will be critical to Countryside achieving net zero by 2030.
  3. A fair and responsible approach that leaves no one behind- it is critical we support a just transition to net zero. We must ensure that the benefits of a transition to a low-carbon society is felt by all and we must ensure that our communities are not adversely affected by rising energy prices and other potential by-products of the green transition.

We are proud to be marking out the route we will take towards becoming a net zero business. This will require not just a series of actions, but a holistic framework for organisational and cultural change.

Net Zero Delivery

To achieve our science-based targets we will need to not only examine our construction and manufacturing operations, but also the design of our homes and developments to ensure they become part of the solution rather than the problem.

Working towards a just transition to net zero by 2030 underlines the strength of our ambitions to create places where people love to live, with sustainable communities built to last.

To ensure we are designing homes fit for a net zero future we will adopt a fabric first approach to reduce the heating demands of new homes. We will also apply the principles of Countryside’s energy hierarchy to help reduce both regulated and unregulated energy usage. Which includes:

  1. Leaner- saving energy through supplying only A-rated energy efficient appliances in new homes.
  2. Keener- ensuring the efficient use of energy through the use of Smart Meters to monitor energy use in real time and installing smart thermostats. And developing a suits of e-learning packages and support materials to help our communities to live greener, more energy efficient lives.
  3. Greener- through the installation of solar panels in the homes we build to address the additional power demands of an electrical heating system and electric vehicle charging.
  4. Cleaner- installing air source heat pumps powered by a mix of solar power and electricity from the grid.

With Countryside’s business model centred around partnerships, we remain the UK’s only major housebuilder for which private “for sale” homes make up less than half of our annual total completions. This means that the majority of the homes we build are for housing providers and the private rented sector.

Because of the significant proportion of affordable homes that we build, we believe it is critical for us to ensure that the decisions we make as an organisation to transition ourselves and our future development schemes to be net-zero must consider and support a just and fair transition for everyone. We have created an action plan for our business that focuses on the key interventions we can make with our stakeholders to support and drive a just transition to net zero.

  • Homeowners: We will work closely with key stakeholders, including housing associations, to build homes that are fit for a net zero future. We will also seek to ensure that households are not adversely affected by potential increases in energy prices that may occur as the Government looks to tax fuels high in carbon emissions, like gas. Our work will include coming up with new designs and configurations that seek to minimise the lifecycle maintenance and heating costs of our homes.
  • Communities: We will work with residents and local communities to support low-carbon initiatives. This could include, for example, training residents to become “energy efficiency champions” so that they can help and advise others on ways to reduce energy costs and save money
  • Supporting Local Economies: As part of our procurement strategy, we will seek to support the local economies around our developments. We have set a group-wide target of generation 30% social value across our business every year as well as setting a commitment to develop local job creation, training and employment support plans across the whole of Countryside by 2025
  • Sharing our knowledge and expertise: We intend to work closely with our housing association partners, supply chain, local community and industry colleagues to tackle the far-reaching and complex issue of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Countryside has joined the Home Builders Federation’s cross-sector Future Homes Task Force. The Task Force brings together representatives from across government, construction, suppliers, and environmental groups.
  • Investing in training and skills: We will create a bespoke training programme to empower each Countryside employee with the skills and expertise they need to effectively support the transition to net zero. We have also become a partner of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, offering free e-learning and training in construction-specific sustainability and climate change issues to supply chain partners. We are targeting 85% of our supply chain to be signed up to the Supply Chain Sustainability School by 2025.

Net Zero Determination

Strong leadership and empowering the actions of all will be critical to lead Countryside to a net zero future.

The Sustainability Committee chaired by a Non-Executive Director and attended by the Executive Committee has oversight of the sustainability strategy including the interventions required to achieve the net zero targets. Work is also being done to embed sustainability across other governance channels including risk, investment, and audit and renumeration.

Our sustainability targets are embedded across all functional areas to further empower action and sustain progress.

In addition, a Future Homes Working Group has been established to address the challenge of designing, manufacturing and constructing homes to zero carbon ready. The business will work in parallel with the Home Building Federation (HBF). 

Recognising that to achieve our ambition of net zero, the right people with the right skills, knowledge and passion is fundamental. Both our learning platform, Share, Inform, Develop (SID) which hosts net zero related guidance, together with our Sustainability Academy where people learn, collaborate and inspire action are ways we are creating the right environment and information for people to learn about net zero in an engaging way.

Measuring & Reviewing Our Progress

Being transparent, accountable, and sharing information on our performance with our stakeholders is a key part of our net zero plans.

Whilst recognising that direct emissions (Scope 1 & 2) are important, our emphasis has shifted to better understanding emissions across the construction value chain.

A range of key reporting metrics and methods have been employed to measure, evaluate, and report on progress. The Sustainability Committee reviews the extent to which progress is being made against stated commitments and targets.

Annually, performance is reported on the progress being made to net zero and progress against science-based targets. A third party will verify all data to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Aligning our approach to Building Communities

Both our approaches to sustainability and Building Communities are guided by our values and purpose of creating place people love to live, with sustainable communities built to last.

We believe there are four key principles that are critical to Building Communities: engagement, empowerment, partnership and stewardship. We work to ensure these principles are embedded in our day-to-day decisions.  

Throughout our approach to Net Zero we have incorporated these principles into our approach as follows:

Engagement - To deliver a transition to net zero that does not adversely affect low-income households, we will engage with housing associations to future-proof homes and prepare residents for expected rising energy prices.

Partnerships - Partnership and collaboration will create a shared sense of urgency and to embed the guiding framework that is necessary to effectively transition to net zero

Empowerment - We will empower homeowners, communities, local economies, our people, supply chain and wider industry to play their part in the net zero transition.