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Sustainability: turning strategy into action

At Retirement Villages, when we talk about our commitment to sustainability, we’re not talking about making lofty promises before turning around and carrying on as normal. The planet just won’t allow it, and so neither will we.

Change that’s built to last

Our sustainability strategy sets out both changes to the way we do things now, and the way we’re building our business for the future. It’s only by adapting both that we can make a real impact. Our strategy centres on 3 core pillars; planet, circularity and social. Under each pillar we’ve set objectives and targets that enable us to drive meaningful sustainable outcomes and systemic change for our business, residents, supply chain, investors and wider society.

 

 

Our three strategic pillars

Let’s take a look at the three pillars of our sustainability strategy, what they’re all about, and what they set out to achieve…

Planet:

Our first pillar focusses on decarbonisation, halting our contributions to climate change across the entire operation of our communities and regenerating biodiversity across our villages to regain the value nature provides.

  • Objective 1: We’ll be net zero carbon on our operations by 2030
  • Objective 2: Our supply chain will be net zero carbon by 2030 and we’ll support our residents to be by 2035
  • Objective 3: We’ll regenerate biodiversity up to 20% across all new communities by 2025

Circularity:

This second pillar centres on designing out waste from the way we operate new and existing communities and its associated carbon footprint. That means changes to our day-to-day actions as well as how we’re building future communities.

  • Objective 1: We’ll operate within a circular economy by 2025
  • Objective 2: We’ll construct and deconstruct within a circular economy by 2030
  • Objective 3: We’ll support our customers to embrace circular economy principles by 2035

Social:

The final pillar extends beyond environmental aspects to provide ongoing positive social and economic impacts. We’ll support the healthy growth of local economies by championing quality employment, creating opportunities and partnering with local businesses.

  • Objective 1: We’ll champion quality employment and provide local learning and development opportunities for all our communities
  • Objective 2: We’ll partner with local business placing them at the centre of our procurement strategy by 2025
  • Objective 3: We’ll create cohesive communities and integrate with existing ones

Do it right. Do it forever.

 Our journey is a never ending one and if we’re doing it right, it will remain that way. We’ll continue to adapt and to find new ways of working and to strive for better.

 Today, we want to share our progress as proof of what we’ve achieved so far and to demonstrate how we’re turning our plans into actions…

Planet – becoming a regenerative business

Our plan to build the UK’s first whole life net zero carbon retirement community at West Byfleet is underway. Working closely with the built environment’s leading charity for sustainability, the UK Green Building Council, we’ve used their framework to assess net zero carbon where all carbon is reduced as low as feasibly possible, and any remaining carbon is offset. The details of what this means in practice are now being brought to life.

Clever choices 

A super insulated façade with triple glazing, air source heat pumps and enough photo voltaic panels will power 17 homes in the development over the course of the year.  An internal carbon tax will be applied on the embodied carbon, the proceeds of which will be ring fenced for a decarbonisation fund, to invest in our existing portfolio of 1,600 homes.

Holding ourselves accountable

This forensic approach to understanding the emissions generated by the construction process will create a saving of over 700 tonnes of embodied carbon through the use of alternative low carbon materials. The funds generated will prioritise the transition of our existing communities to net zero carbon, for example, to move away from fossil fuel heating. We’re also currently reviewing opportunities at Cedars (Chorleywood), having just completed a net zero study. Alongside this we’ve commissioned net zero studies on both Castle (Berkhamsted) and Lime Tree (Rugby).

Circularity - designing out waste from our communities

At Debden Grange, Essex, the first objective in the circulatory pillar is in play by establishing a pop up eco refill service to reduce single use plastics. Plans to introduce the same facility across our villages are underway.

Waste not want not

During the demolition phase of the office building at our development in Botanical Place, West Byfleet, we removed existing street furniture such as benches, street signs and post boxes and provided them with a second life by ensuring they are reused elsewhere. We’ve also arranged for the much-loved concrete planters to be given a new home the town’s main station.

Building smarter

To further support the retention of resource value onsite during this phase, our demolition contractor was able to achieve the aim of recycling 95% of materials. They achieved this by carefully demolishing the existing 1960’s building, assessing all the different component materials and determining which could be wholly or partially preserved.

Social - supporting the social and economic vitality of our local communities

We engaged with Woking College art students to create the mural that’s now in place on the Botanical Place, West Byfleet site hoarding, taking inspiration from the town’s rich local history in essential oils.

Lending a helping hand

A click and collect service for the library has also been established to retain essential services to the community, while the new library prepares to open adjacent to the new development. Debden Grange, Essex, also rehoused the local post office in a scheme to ensure a vital community benefit was not lost to the town.

At Park Place (Boston) a group called Knit & Natter has been formed by the Village Manager, Louise Smith. Staff, residents and family members are coming together to knit blankets for premature babies at Pilgrim Hospital Neonatal Unit. The residents have found this helps keep social connections with their neighbours.

This is just the beginning

Our strategy is a living entity. Once achieved, our goals will be replaced with new ones. It will respond to changing trends, technology, demands and opportunities that will keep it effective and relevant for the business and our stakeholders.

Transparency is key to maintaining accountability and trust between all parties involved. So, we’re establishing a clear and robust reporting process, which will enable us to keep track of our performance and communicate regularly to our stakeholders. To ensure timely and accurate disclosures, we’ll seek independent third-party verification for our reporting.

For further information on our sustainability strategy or community activity, please get in touch with your contact at RVG or email: sustainability@retirementvillages.co.uk

Read our full sustainability strategy

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