Continuing with our brand new series, Housing Digital talks to Kate Franklin, Chief Operating Officer at CHP, to find out more about their sustainability strategies and upcoming projects
What prompted CHP’s commitment to sustainability?
CHP’s core social purpose is to meet local housing need. We want to do this in a sustainable way, ensuring that the actions we are taking now offer long-term solutions for our customers and communities, and do not compromise future generations.
Recent research has shown that 15% of the UK’s carbon emissions derive from housing. As a responsible housing provider, we believe we have a significant part to play in reducing the carbon emissions that cause climate change.
You recently launched your first Environmental Sustainability Strategy. What prompted its development, what does it entail, and how do you aim to achieve its ambitions?
The development of the strategy was prompted from the desire to commit to a sustainable future for our communities and homes. We knew it was important to set out our priorities on these issues and offer accountability to our stakeholder groups.
The strategy provides us with a comprehensive and consistent framework for sustainable corporate practices, homes, and communities. We already have an ambitious development plan with a customer-focussed approach. This strategy will help us to build upon this, so we can continue transforming our customers’ lives in future.
“The strategy was prompted from the desire to commit to a sustainable future – we knew it was important to set out our priorities on these issues and offer accountability to stakeholder groups”Kate Franklin
The strategy is comprised of a road map of key targets, an action plan outlining how these targets will be achieved, and a summary of our current sustainability performance.
The core strategic targets are to achieve sustainable corporate practices, homes, and communities by 2050 and beyond. This means that we will achieve carbon-zero by 2050 and eliminate all unnecessary waste by 2022. We will increase the efficiency of our homes while making our communities and workplaces more sustainable.
Going forward, we will review and report on sustainability performance both on an annual and a quarterly basis to ensure that we are on track to achieve our goals.
You are an early adopter of the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing. What prompted this decision, and what are the benefits of adopting the Standard?
We were delighted to become early adopters of the Sustainability Reporting Standard as it provides us with a standardised set of criteria for the housing sector that we could report on.
It also demonstrates our commitment to aligning social, governance, and environmental factors in how we go about our business and the services we provide to our customers. We had already committed to reporting on our Sustainability performance on an annual basis in our new Environmental Sustainability Strategy, so this tool is a great framework for doing so.
What has CHP done to facilitate sustainable corporate practices, and how do you aim to build on this sustainability going forward?
We have successfully moved to agile working during the pandemic, and in future we intend to use a hybrid model of office and remote-working. This will not only reduce our energy usage and wastage but will also reduce the carbon emissions derived from commuter travel.
Our head office in Chelmsford has facilities to compost all of our garden waste to make mulch that can be used by our Grounds Maintenance Team. We recycle and recover 100% of waste collected from our homes, which means nothing goes to landfill.
“We have successfully moved to agile working during the pandemic, and in future we intend to use a hybrid model of office and remote-working”
Despite this, we recognise that it is fundamental to implement a culture of lean material, usage which is why we have set a target to reduce all single-use products and 25% of paper from our operations by 2022.
In addition to recycling, we currently have a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of our operations. The electricity in our offices and supported schemes is 100% renewably sourced and zero-carbon.
What sustainability projects are you looking to launch in 2021?
We recently launched our first Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which is a launchpad for number of projects that will help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In 2021, we will be undertaking a project to determine Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings for our existing homes that lack a rating.
Currently, 72% of our homes hold an EPC, with an average rating of 74.79 (band C). This is already well above the national average for social housing (68.9 and band D). Our aim is for as many properties as possible to have an EPC rating of C or above by 2030.
Read more CHP-related stories:
- CHP and LGAH further partnership with property transfer
- CHP retains top ratings from Regulator
- CHP and LGAH further partnership with property transfer
We will be implementing electric vehicles into our commercial fleet for the first time, and are producing an end-of-year Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report in-line with the new Sustainability Reporting Standard.
We will also be launching a new Sustainability Panel comprised of passionate employees who will drive forward our ambitious sustainability goals in our workplace and communities.
You have created a sustainability roadmap to 2050. What does the roadmap entail, how realistic are the milestones you have set yourselves, and what could get in the way?
Our roadmap to 2050 consists of a range of commitments to sustainable development, in line with UK government targets and our own targets, which are in accordance with the UN Sustainability Goals.
The key milestones on our journey to carbon-zero by 2050 are:
- 20% of our fleet to be comprised of electric vehicles by 2022
- We are committed to the future homes standard and will aim to cease the building of new homes on the gas grid by 2025
- We aim to have all of our homes (particularly those vulnerable to fuel poverty) at an EPC C or above, where possible, by 2030
- Begin works to retrofit all of our existing homes to carbon-zero capability by 2050
- All new-builds to be built with carbon-zero capability by 2045
These milestones and goals will be constantly reviewed and updated, but they provide a starting point for achieving our ambitious sustainability targets.
Based in Chelmsford, Essex, CHP is a locally managed and governed housing association and registered Community Benefit Society. CHP owns or manages over 10,500 homes and provides services for over 25,000 customers.
Main image: CHP’s Blossom Way development in Chelmsford, all of whose homes are fitted with air-source heat pumps
Read next: Sustainability Showcase | LiveWest
Are you a social housing professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.