Building a better future

As a construction company we have recognised our need to make changes in the bid to improve, protect and enhance biodiversity, prior to, during and after construction. As the World around us is constantly changing, we realise there are many ways in which we can do our bit to help our environment, whether this be on site or from our head office in Penrith, Cumbria. Through new measures, values, and technology, we aim to improve our carbon footprint, ultimately, we want to be more sustainable.

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“Atkinson’s are dedicated to keeping our effect on the environment as minimal as possible. I have been in this business for over 30 years, we have always tried to help in any way we can. We understand that some of the works carried out during construction have the potential to cause or create a negative impact on biodiversity. However, there are areas in which we can contribute to enhance local biodiversity, leaving a positive legacy as a result of our operations. A specific aim of ours is to plant 100,000 native trees over the next 10 years, creating ecosystems for a variety of species.”

Neil McKaskie, Operations Director

Our Approach

There are several ways in which we intend to ensure we are always keeping up to date with, and following rules, regulations, and guidance. We intend to improve our current practice, and aim to deliver this by:
 

  1. Strictly following all guidelines within the Habitat and Species Regulations to ensure habitat and protected species surveys are conducted where appropriate, efficiently, and accurately.
  2. Managing biodiversity risk and opportunities through a variety of additional risk assessments.
  3. Following and adhering to all legal obligations while implementing careful site management.
  4. Maximising opportunities for biodiversity enhancement where appropriate.
  5. Appointing ecological and biodiversity specialists when undertaking project specific biodiversity initiatives.
  6. Ensuring all employees and subcontractors are equipped with the knowledge and training they need to ensure they comply with these policies.

During the planning stage of each individual project, we assess and monitor the potential environmental risks that may be posed to species and habitats and put measures in place to ensure these risks are mitigated. Our aim is to ensure we respect and preserve the natural environment, enhancing biodiversity where possible.

Ways in which we do this include, the creation of new habitats during early construction to minimise the impact of habitat destruction, buffer areas and landscape features which will aid wildlife, including the planting of native trees, and most importantly Restore and improve. We not only aim to protect existing habitats, but focus on linking and connecting existing landscape features to ultimately help species grow and evolve.

 

Where possible we ensure each development has a soft landscaping plan approved by the local planning department. Not only does this improve site appearance, it is also a great way to increase pollinator activity. This supports biodiversity and is also a great indicator in identifying the overall health of an ecosystem. 

 

Adapting to our climate

We currently measure our Carbon Footprint, with the aim to reduce this year on year with the implementation of new products and technology, stringent waste and recycling management and monitoring of electricity, fuel, and water usage.

Waste Reduction Measures

We all know about the significant impact waste and pollution has had on our climate, hence, our commitment to maintaining our proactive approach to recycling. These measures have been in place within Atkinson’s for over 25 years, and we are keen to keep improving the amount of waste we recycle or reuse year on year.  Recycling can help minimise the rate of climate change by reducing the extraction of raw materials from the earth. Not only do we recycle recreational waste, but we make a conscious effort to reuse materials on site including sand, clay, sub-soil, and topsoil.  

Operational Impact

We believe our employees play a significant role in ensuring we can implement our eco strategy. We want to ensure all Atkinson’s employees are aware of the impact the construction industry can have on the environment, highlighting the importance of our values. This would give our staff the foundations required to ensure that when working independently they can follow company guidance set in place, such as time spent on plant/ machinery, appropriate travel/speed to and from the office and site, and electricity reduction measures.

Building Sustainable Communities

We have identified the vital role we play in sustaining our community for future generations.

We value the community in which we live and work, and it is important for us to ensure we build homes that can also help our customers on their own journey to improving their carbon footprint. We want to quantify the social impact new build housing may have on a community and put strategies in place to ensure we counteract any negative impact.

We build homes for the future, therefore uphold the highest safety standards, leaving a legacy that delivers economic and environmental value to the communities we build. Throughout the longevity of each project, we invest significantly within the community our development supports, whether it be financial contributions, new and improved facilities, or sponsorship for local clubs.

Not only do we financially contribute towards the construction of new schools within upcoming communities, during our 40 years in business, we have helped a wide range of schools with the expansion of their current facilities, repairs due to flood/fire damage, the construction of new bespoke facilities and the donation of topsoil or other useful materials. 

Driving in the right direction

As a company we have begun the transition from fuel sourced cars to electric, with the introduction of our first Atkinson Homes eco car.

Electric cars have many benefits, they are not only cleaner for the environment as they do not emit any exhaust gasses, but also reduce noise pollution as well as running costs.

We believe that electric vehicles are the future, with research indicating greenhouse gasses are currently responsible for one third of the Worlds CO2 emissions. The installation of EV charging points also provides many benefits to our employees and visitors who may own electric vehicles that are used for commuting purposes, as it ensures we are providing the facilities required to all.

We have an ambition to become ‘Net Zero’, and by introducing a fully electric car into our current fleet of vehicles, highlights the start of a long term transition for Atkinson’s.

Delivering on our promise

 

As part of our pledge to reduce energy consumption, we have successfully completed the installation of 48 x 375W PV panels, 3 x 8kW batteries and 6 x 7kW EV charge points, giving us 7 in total at our head office in Penrith.

The new hardware is all ‘smart’ and allows us to accurately monitor the energy we generate, use, and store throughout the day.

In the first month from the installation of our new solar panels, batteries, and EV charging points, we have generated almost 5000kWh of energy, and as a keen supporter of our local community and an established employer locally, we hope the implementation of these measures will set an example and help increase awareness surrounding the importance of becoming more sustainable. 

We aim to continue to use local labour and where possible source materials locally too, this aims to reduce travel, reducing pollution in the bid to protect our atmosphere. By reducing the supply chain, it enables us to work more efficiently, reducing cost, as well as reducing miles.

We have enquired about adding a “Tiny Forest” to one of our future sites. A Tiny Forest consists of 600 native trees densely planted in a tennis court-sized plot of land. It provides a nature-rich land and accessible green space. This is also potential for outdoor learning as we plan alongside Earthwatch to recruit and induct local volunteers to help maintain the Tiny Forest. This initiative is not only important for biodiversity, but key in ensuring we have a generation full of knowledge to maintain these species moving forward-teaching others to care for our environment.

 Affordable housing provides many benefits, some of which help towards environmental impact. Climate change can have a huge impact on housing security and over the last 12 years we have completed over 340 affordable housing units to help our local community. 

Although the main benefit is economic, we ensure our new developments maximise green space, creating wildlife corridors within sections of each site. Wildlife corridors are a great way to mitigate some of the negative impact during construction. They enable an increase of movement between isolated populations, increase genetic variability within species, and can also decrease heating and cooling costs when used as windbreaks. Another huge economic impact of affordable housing is the number of jobs it can create, both during the construction phases and ultimately through long-term societal growth.

Making the switch to renewable energy

 

We will keep looking for additional ways to become more sustainable within our operations. However, this is a step in the right direction, showing our commitment to the future.

In our future developments we aim to be modern and innovative and are always thinking about additional steps we can take to improve. We are passionate about reducing the carbon footprint of the homes that we build and have already introduced a new standard of building that are well above the current regulations. New homes are ultra-insulated, and air sealed so require little energy for heating.

As we head towards making our new homes as sustainable as possible there are many new products and innovations to consider. On a recent scheme for Riverside Housing at Dalston Road, Carlisle, the average Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating was 83, which is equal to a ‘B’ Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The national average SAP rating is 67 with an equal to EPC rating of ‘C’, which puts our homes at 30% more energy efficient.

But we want to improve, so are implementing new strategies in the bid to build A+ homes at our upcoming development within Stainton. These homes can produce more energy than what is required, keeping the home at a regulated temperature all year round.

Each home on our development is oriented and positioned in a way to maximise the passive solar gain which maximises the heat that the sun naturally provides through glazed areas. Our aim is that homes are also equipped with Solar PV panels that will generate the majority of electricity that is consumed within the home whilst the sun shines. Solar Panels are key to generating electricity within the home and moving forward will be an addition to most of our homes across the UK. Air Source Heat Pumps are also a great way for us to reduce our carbon footprint, using heat absorbed from the outside air to heat an indoor space. Most of our new homes now come with an Air Source Heat Pump installed, as well as a provision for EV Car chargers, ensuring that they are fit for the future.

We are proud to have committed to building our homes above the ‘Future Homes Standard Specification’, which will require new build homes to be future proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency by 2025. We will continue to work towards making our homes carbon neutral. 

Our Methods

  • Solar Panels (PV)
  • Battery Storage
  • Air Source Heat Pumps
  • EV Car Chargers
  • Working above the ‘Future Homes Standard Specification’