Influential group criticises industry as Berkeley Group pledges to hit green homes target

None of the UK’s leading housebuilders has an adequate strategy to tackle climate change, even though almost two-thirds claim to recognise it as a “significant issue”.

This was the conclusion of a report by a coalition of sustainability experts. The report also found that Berkeley Group topped the sustainability league of the 20 largest housebuilders (see table).

On the same day it was released, Berkeley moved to bolster its green credentials by pledging to be the first major housebuilder to ensure all its homes meet level three of the Code for Sustainable Homes from 1 January next year.

The study ranked housebuilders on what their sustainability targets were, how they had gone about meeting them, and how well they promoted what they did to consumers and investors.

The report made a distinction between a firm’s overall approach to sustainability and its specific policies on climate change in terms of, for example, the flood risk created by its developments.

Housebuilders came in for particularly stinging criticism on this second issue. Sarah Ratcliffe, joint managing director of Upstream, a sustainability consultant, said: “We found many were responding to things coming at them rather than taking a long-term view.”

The report was compiled by Next Generation, which is made up of the WWF, HBOS’ Insight Investment arm, the Housing Corporation and Upstream.