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COP26: Inside Blueoak Estates

The UK is hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021.

The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The UK has committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action.

Hear from Iain MacLean, Managing Director of Blueoak Estates, to learn more about what we are doing to reduce our carbon footprint and to meet vital environmental targets.

What is your business doing to reduce its carbon footprint?

The continued reduction of our carbon footprint forms an important part of the wider Blueoak Estates strategy. Almost 70% of our units to date support the Government’s bid to tackle, ‘embodied carbon’, essentially bringing dilapidated and abandoned buildings back to life and redeveloped for modern-day use.

Climate experts are urging ministers to encourage developers to first consider ways to preserve buildings, rather than demolish and rebuild. From the infancy of Blueoak, we have explored ways in which we can use redundant buildings and reconfigure and redevelop them. Often, the fabric of the building is sound, however, the task of redeveloping can seem more challenging when dealing with the unknown, therefore lots of developers prefer to simply knock down and rebuild.

From a sustainability and environmental perspective, this approach dramatically reduces both waste and use of new building material, which according to recent reports account for around 50% of building-related carbon emissions. We’ll continue to champion this approach and showcase our schemes as best practice where possible.

Is sustainability a key consideration for your business and your customers?

Sustainability has been a key consideration for Blueoak since we launched some six years ago. We want to be recognised as trailblazers in terms of applying pioneering environmental technologies, building homes that minimise potential impact on the environment.

We also want our homes to be energy efficient, and clean and healthy environments in which to live, and have incorporated a range of sustainable technologies that help us to achieve these objectives.

From a homebuyer’s perspective, sustainability is gaining traction in terms of important factors when considering buying a home. In a similar vein to the motor industry, as it makes the move towards electric and hydrogen, we must explore new ways of building, working with new products and materials and adapting to different ways of working to meet vital environmental targets.

What future investments are you planning/would like to make?

We are an agile and innovative business and are keen to invest in our green business. We have used a range of sustainable technologies and products across our sites and many homes include photovoltaic panels, allowing homeowners to generate their own electricity and sell back to the grid where possible. We are also introducing air source heat pumps as well as flu heat recovery systems.

We will also be dramatically increasing the number of shrubs and trees planted and introducing green spaces such as community orchards and shared open outdoor features as standard.

How can the government help make it easier for your firm to take action?

Government directive and targets are clear, however much more support is needed if the housebuilding industry is to help realise these ambitions. Funding to help explore new ways of working would be incredibly beneficial as would support in terms of research and development into Modern Methods of Construction.

A consistent approach nationally as to the date by which all new housing should meet the target. More clear definition as to what zero carbon, carbon neutral, carbon offsetting, operational zero carbon etc actually is would be helpful also.

A shared database or resource providing access to research and development specialists in this field would be incredibly useful as companies such as ours simply don’t have the resources in-house to undertake this work, and there are too many inputs to rely on for all suppliers to get to the right answer.

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