Retirement Villages Group‘s (RVG) 196-home mixed-use development at West Byfleet, Surrey, will be the ‘UK’s first net zero carbon’ scheme over its whole development and operational lifespan
In the context of a global climate emergency, RVG’s commitment significantly exceeds the requirements of current UK planning and construction regulations and aims to set new standards for the industry.
The net-zero status accounts for carbon generated by both the materials used to build the project, known as embodied carbon, as well as the ‘operational carbon’ used to run the development over an average 60-year lifespan.
RVG is the first developer to use UK Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework definition in this sector. RVG’s approach is endorsed by the UKGBC.
The embodied carbon will be offset at Practical Completion and the operational carbon annually. Embodied carbon in construction can account for 50% of a building’s carbon footprint over its lifetime and is regularly excluded from the definition of ‘net zero’ used across the property industry.
RVG, which is owned by AXA IM Real Assets, recently announced ambitious plans to acquire and develop up to 40 new later living schemes across the UK over the next 15 years and is committed to achieving ‘net zero carbon’ across the whole development and operational lifespans for all its projects.
The funds will be used to invest in verified offsets and invest in a range of decarbonisation projects across RVG’s existing operational assets. For example, the removal of gas boilers and replacement with all electric heating systems that utilise renewable energy, as they seek to achieve net zero carbon across their estate well in advance of the 2050 deadline.
RVG’s newest schemes will also be designed and constructed to meet the highest 3-star ‘Fitwel’ standard, used to measure a user’s experience of living in a new building.
Its accreditation signals to employees, residents, investors, and others that wellness is prioritised within the design, development, and operations of buildings and communities.
This announcement builds on the new sustainability strategy established by RVG in January 2021, which sets a clear roadmap to achieving net zero carbon by 2030.
Embracing every aspect of sustainable design
Will Bax, CEO of RVG, said: “Our new developments will not only be fabulous places to live, they will be easy on the planet by leaving a net zero carbon footprint over their lifetime whilst also seeking to boost local biodiversity as a key priority.
“Our West Byfleet project sets a benchmark that I actively encourage others to follow by looking beyond industry requirements and assessing the carbon emission of a building throughout its life.
“The past year has given us all an opportunity to step back and reflect. There is no longer a choice of whether to act, it is imperative that we all recognise the need to do more, work harder, share knowledge, collaborate, and find a way to reverse the climate tide.
“This is not a race worth running alone, we’re looking for partners to work with us on our journey to be net zero carbon by 2030.”