The UK's first carbon positive housebuilder

Case study: The Berkeley Group
We are proud to be have been able to partner with the Berkeley Group on their journey to carbon positivity.

The Berkeley Group Vision

In May 2016, the Berkeley Group set an impressive goal. They wanted to become the first major housebuilder in Britain to not just be carbon neutral but to go even further and become carbon positive. In 2018, they achieved exactly that.

The housebuilder’s admirable sustainability ambition was one of their 2016-2018 commitments under their business strategy called ‘Our Vision’. They set commitments every two years under Our Vision, as part of their dedication to run their business more efficiently and sustainably. It is important to them that their business aims to be world-class in everything it does. As the first major carbon positive housebuilder in the UK they are placing themselves out in front, not just in their own field, but in the global playing field of sustainability and climate action.

At the start of our partnership, the company had already made enormous strides in improving the efficiency of their business and reducing their emissions by increasing awareness of how to address unnecessary out-of-hours energy consumption, promoting the use of energy from renewable sources and implementing Carbon Management and Action Plans across all their sites.

They approached EcoAct for assistance with obtaining assured renewable energy to green their energy usage, and carbon credits, not just to offset their remaining emissions, but to help them reach the next level and achieve carbon positivity.

 

The path to positivity

Our team of energy experts were able to support the Berkeley Group in obtaining renewable energy certificates called Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) from hydro, wind and solar photovoltaic projects based in the UK. This was important for the Berkeley Group to ensure that the electricity they had purchased was backed by renewables.

It was also important to the Berkeley Group that they source the right projects to offset more than their remaining carbon emissions. The projects needed to be verified by international standards and deliver additional value to the communities in which they operate, in line with the Berkeley Group’s own strongly held values on sustainable development.

EcoAct were able to create for them a portfolio of select projects that were in line with their business operations and key areas of focus under their Our Vision business strategy, including biodiversity and healthy homes:

Barbosa Fuel Switching Project – Focused on a small industry in Brazil that produces ceramic bricks, this project helps substitute wood fuel, which drives deforestation, with other forms of renewable biomass, supporting an industry within the construction supply chain to become more sustainable.

Madre de Dios Project – This project in Peru reduces deforestation, biodiversity loss and the threat of illegal logging by setting up surveillance and forest management practices in a vulnerable area of the Amazon rainforest. This prevents carbon emissions from the loss of vital carbon sinks but means the financing of carbon credits is also tackling the illegal timber trade and preserving the habitat of endangered species and tribal communities.

Dafur Low-Smoke stoves project – The project provides access to LPG gas stoves to families to replace open fires in the home and reduce the hours spent collecting fire wood. This works to prevent the negative health impacts of smoke in the home and aid female empowerment.

Wind Power Generation in India – Wind generation projects based all across India are supporting the important transition to renewables in a large developing country.

The Berkeley Group is a FTSE 100 property developer creating successful and sustainable homes and places in London, Birmingham and the South of England. The Berkeley Group has a passion for developing schemes renowned for their quality, design, public realm, transport, open space, access to employment and amenities; all the things people look for in a place to live and that enable a community to thrive.

The Berkeley Group’s business strategy is called Our Vision. Through Our Vision they aspire to be a world-class business, defined by the quality of the places they create, generating long-term value and having a positive impact on society. Our Vision includes several climate change related commitments covering mitigation and adaptation measures within the Berkeley Group’s operations and new homes and places.

"We are proud to be carbon positive; offsetting more than the emissions that we produce. Fundamental to our offsetting approach is that we support projects that align to our business activities and strategic areas of focus; an outcome which EcoAct has assisted us in achieving."
Helen Wickham
Head of Sustainable Business and Reporting, The Berkeley Group

Achieving carbon positivity

Having reduced their operational emissions by 22% in 2018 compared to 2016, the Berkeley Group were able to report their business as being carbon positive by:

  • Purchasing more REGOs than their energy consumption
  • Offsetting more than their remaining emissions

Helen Wickham, Head of Sustainability at the Berkeley Group, says “as a result of climate change, we are expecting to witness more varied weather patterns and extreme weather events which pose significant risks to our business. Like other companies, the Berkeley Group must take action to reduce carbon emissions and our primary aim is to become more efficient in the way we consume energy. However, we recognise that the continued and significant reduction of our emissions through changes in behaviours, procedures and technology will be an ongoing process over a number of years.

We are therefore proud to be carbon positive; offsetting more than the emissions that we produce. Fundamental to our offsetting approach is that we support projects that align to our business activities and strategic areas of focus; an outcome which EcoAct has assisted us in achieving.”

The Berkeley Group are now eyeing a science-based target to drive their climate ambitions even further, and in May 2018, announced an industry leading commitment to produce a transition plan for each new development which enables the homes to operate at net zero carbon by 2030.

To find out more about the Berkeley Group’s approach to becoming carbon positive and to view their other carbon disclosures, please see their website.

The results

  • Operational emissions reduced by 22% in 2018 compared to 2016:
  • 25,102 REGOs purchased - more than their consumption of purchased UK electricity at 21,480 MWh.:
  • 20,000 tCO₂e offset through verified projects - more than their remaining emissions of 17,914 tCO₂e:

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