Image courtesy of Vistry Group

Housebuilder funds climate study into future of home construction

Vistry Group, a top five national housebuilder, is funding research at the University of Exeter to explore the impact of climate change on homes and housebuilding in the future.

The analysis will look at two climate-related risk scenarios – a rise of 2°C and 4°C - to understand the implications of rises in temperatures. The results will influence the way future houses are built, the materials used, and how they are powered.

Alex Roberts, group sustainability manager at Vistry, said: “We are delighted to work with the University of Exeter, which carries out world-leading research on climate change, to explore these scenarios. This climate analysis will enable us to confidently make the right decisions going forward to the benefit of all our stakeholders. These meaningful results will help us identify the risks and opportunities of future changes, both in terms of physical climate impacts and policy, so that we are well-prepared, innovative and can communicate our strategy and direction in a clear way.”

It’s likely that all large companies will soon be required to complete climate change risk assessments. Issues will include people’s exposure to heat, the way materials react to hotter temperatures, what the future power supply will look like and increased likelihood of flooding and extreme weather, as well as changes in policy and expectations of customers. A first step is to undertake a scenario analysis to help understand the impact of a 2°C and also 4°C rise in temperature but ultimately the aim is to support carbon neutral homes by 2030.

Dr Matt Eames and Dr Peter Melville-Shreeve from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter, are leading the research. As well as the climate scenarios they will also be looking further at flood risks and the overheating potential of standard house types.

Matt said: “This scenario analysis is crucial for determining how our houses need to evolve in the future. It is exciting to work on something where we will see the real-world impact in a comparatively short time.”

Peter added: “Challenges such as flooding and drought continue to rise up the agenda as climate change impacts are realised. Understanding the potential scenarios we are facing is the first step necessary to help us design the flood resilient developments of the future.”

Graham Prothero, chief operating officer at Vistry, said the housebuilding industry, including the new Future Homes Task Force, would gain from Vistry’s work with the university. The task force brings together representatives from across all the sectors that shape new homes, including the government, housebuilders, utility providers, material suppliers and environmental groups.

“A new Future Homes Task Force has been set-up to ensure housebuilding is aligned to the UK's net-zero target,” Graham said. “Meeting the ambitions set out by the task force requires a new approach and cross-sector collaboration.

“This research won’t just help us at Vistry, the results will be fully open so that all housebuilders can benefit. It is the first step in what we hope will be a longer-term research partnership.”

Vistry focuses its efforts in sustainability across all aspects of its strategy, with a particular focus on three key areas – its people, operations, and homes and communities. The housebuilder this year committed to setting out a roadmap to delivering zero carbon homes and to implement science-based targets for carbon reduction. This is supported by a dedicated sustainability team to coordinate and control current and future performance across the Group.

Date: 18 August 2021

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