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Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG)

In November 2020 we joined a group of 70 banks, investors and housing providers that became early adopters of an industry-led sustainability reporting standard designed to unlock institutional investment to help tackle the UK’s deepening housing crisis.

A working group was set up in 2019 in response to concerns that ESG investment was being inhibited by the absence of a common reporting standard. As with many other sectors across the economy, there has been a multitude of ESG reporting frameworks, resulting in reporting that lacked transparency, was prone to inconsistency and was difficult to compare with other organisations.

The aim of the standard is to provide a voluntary reporting framework for housing providers to report on their ESG performance in a transparent, consistent and comparable way. This will make it easier for lenders and investors to assess the ESG performance of housing providers, identify ESG risks and opportunities that will create positive social and environmental outcomes.

Participating housing associations – including Great Places – will report against the standard annually. Lenders and investors, including Lloyds Bank, LGIM Real Assets, M&G and NatWest, have agreed to use the standard in their investment and credit policies, processes and/or product design.

The standard covers 48 criteria across ESG considerations such as affordability, fire safety and net zero carbon emissions, which were unveiled in the final report of the working group. The report follows an earlier draft of the criteria, published in May 2021 as part of a sector-wide consultation. The consultation received feedback from more than 400 individuals, including representatives from housing associations, investors, trade bodies, financial experts and tenants’ groups.

Carbon Management Strategy

Climate change remains one of the greatest challenges facing the world and impacts on our customers, colleagues and stakeholders. We are aware of the important part we can play, and in April we launched our three-year plan outlining how we will work towards realising our ambition of becoming a net zero carbon business.

Our Carbon Management Strategy sets out how we will reduce our carbon emissions by 15 per cent year on year. The strategy highlights key areas we will focus our efforts in the first three years, including in our affordable development and investment programmes, business operations and waste. We are also carrying out a research project looking into the challenges and cost implications for our development programme to achieve the Government’s Future Homes Standard and develop zero carbon ready homes.

Our strategy also highlights how we will consider and preserve the existing natural environment in our new and existing developments, working with suppliers, colleagues and customers to reduce carbon emissions. Plans include creating a new carbon benchmark for suppliers; extending Carbon Literacy training to customers; and planting trees for every new home we build and for every home in our existing stock that fails to meet certain energy performance targets. By taking bold and radical action and leading by example, we will be able to realise our ambition of becoming a net zero carbon business.