Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Construction firm set to drive down its carbon footprint with help of sustainability expert

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Sam Smart


Construction firm Stonewood is working with a leading commercial sustainability consultancy to drive down its carbon footprint and revolutionise the way it works.

Stonewood, based at Castle Combe and with offices in Gloucestershire and Somerset, has brought on board Wanderlands, a Bristol and Somerset-based sustainability firm that works with a variety of industries.

The process will begin with a workshop for senior staff with Wanderlands’ chartered environmentalists and ecologists, who will go through every facet of the operations of the group’s divisions – Stonewood Builders, Stonewood Partnerships, Stonewood Homes and Earthstone, its groundworks arm.

Stonewood Partnerships managing director Sam Smart said the consultant will assess its carbon footprint, recommend ways of reducing it as much as possible through new practices and also undertake a programme of new woodland creation and other sustainable measures at its developments, or on sites nearby, to offset its residue net carbon.

Tim Oliver, Wanderlands commercial and marketing director, said "We are delighted to be working with such a forward-thinking business as Stonewood.

"The first stage is to assess the company’s operations across three areas – their direct carbon emissions from areas like transportation, indirect emissions from energy suppliers and emissions driven by its supply chain.

"We always start with addressing emissions which are under a business direct control, in essence start with our ‘own house’ by making changes, switching to renewable energy suppliers and so on.

"Before we move to the third area, the supply chain, where there are many other stakeholders to incorporate.

“For instance, the industry relies heavily on cement, which is manufactured by literally melting stone at a very high temperature, as such the aggregate suppliers carry a very heavy carbon footprint.”

Sam said: “We are conscious that this issue is so prevalent in the wider world with climate change a hot topic.

"The construction industry globally contributes about 40 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and between now and 2025, new homes will contribute 15 per cent of that 40 per cent.

“We want to be leading the way in our industry but we don’t want to be sucked into a ‘greenwash’ and just appearing to do something, we really want to make this meaningful.”

Information gleaned from the workshop will lead to some short-term recommendations from Wanderlands to minimise emissions and a long-term Environmental Social Governance strategy.

“The workshop brings the environmental issues to the table and allows the management to be increasingly aware in how to move the whole culture of the business to be climate focused,” said Tim.

“Once the business has addressed its immediate quick wins, it is left with what is referred to as the residue carbon footprint and this will offset that is through new woodland creation and biodiversity enhancement schemes.”

Wanderlands specialises in creating natural solutions via new woodland creation adopting native broadleaf saplings, strategically planted to create a sustainable ecosystem of flora and fauna supporting pollinating insects and other wildlife.

“We don’t look at planting commercial woodland that is felled in 15 years’ time, we plant conventional woodlands which will be there for 200 plus years,” said Tim.

“We always look where possible to have woodland sites to be available to schools and communities so we will ensure they are maintained and accessible and have information boards.

"If we don’t support the education aspects why this is being done, we won’t drive through the long-term understanding of why being climate focused is the new normal.”

The government’s new Environment Bill, which is due to become law in November, will clamp down on environmental standards.

Across the UK, 230 planning authorities, including Wiltshire Council, have declared climate emergencies and are insisting on decarbonisation and biodiversity enhancement planning.

“There is great value in doing this because this is where the world is going. In almost every aspect of our day-to-day operation this is becoming top of the agenda with our private clients and landowners,” said.

“It is also becoming as important as health and safety in terms of what is expected of us as a company. I am very excited by it.”

“We have worked with other developers so we know where the hot points are going to be and we know the potential solutions. Some are a lot more palatable than others but what Stonewood recognises is that it is not an option to do nothing and that has to be applauded.

“Even if the law wasn’t going to change and force companies to act, it is not an option if you value the future of generations to come.”

Pictured: Stonewood Partnerships managing director Sam Smart