Vistry boss says climate challenge is a moral imperative as housebuilder staff lead the charge
29 Jan 2021

A housebuilding boss says tackling climate change is a moral imperative and that colleagues are driving the green agenda in his business. Keith Carnegie, chief executive officer of Vistry Housebuilding, part of Vistry Group, said their fabric-first approach was vital as the organisation stepped up to meet the Government’s net-zero operational emissions target on all new-build homes by 2025. But he said housebuilders were being urged to meet aims sooner than that by Whitehall and Vistry staff were demanding the company lead the way. As well as focusing on building materials and heat efficiency, Keith added that they needed to look at developments in the round, and factor in wider issues when tackling the climate challenge, regardless of high short-term costs. Keith, speaking as part of a panel on climate change at a recent residential property conference, said: “It’s undoubtedly going to cost us more to deliver on what we need to do, but we’ve got a moral imperative to respond to the climate change emergency that we’re facing. We need to step up and embrace this as we go forward. “It’s very easy to look at your planning application and think the impact of what you’re doing ends and starts at the red line of your application. That would be a grave mistake. We are part of a community and we want our customers to feel part of that wider community. There is an obligation on us to look at this from a wider community sense, particularly in terms of placemaking. But not just physical infrastructure, we want customers to be happy with where they live, both with their home and the community we’ve created. “Our employees are also demanding that we are doing the responsible thing and asking the right questions on sustainability. They want to work with organisations that are thinking strategically and moving in the right direction. This is about customers, regulation and our own staff. To employ the best people, who are forward-thinking and innovative, we as a company need to be responding to the climate change challenge. “It’s about looking at what we’re building from a fabric-first point of view. It isn’t just about all of the add-ons, it’s about getting our building process as efficient as we possibly can. Whether that’s through modular construction off-site, or building onsite ?" to get the highest efficiency you’ve got to go with fabric-first. We are getting into the areas of marginal gain in terms of improvements we can do to the specification of the fabrics of the homes that we’re building. With regards to the decarbonisation of heating homes going forward, the Government has made a very clear commitment of 2025 for this, but are signalling this happens as early as possible. This will become the norm, that’s the direction of travel.” Keith added that as well as the decarbonised heating process, more electric cars were on their way soon and green open space needed to be at the forefront of developments’ designs as more people worked from home. “We are going to see electric charging points across our new developments,” he added. “That’s months away as opposed to years away. But I think people will use cars a lot less, with more people working from home, so it will be a lot more communal in terms of sharing cars within households and possibly car clubs going forward.”

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