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Carbon emissions

The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, with around half of this being from “in-use” sources such as heating, lighting, cooking and running appliances1. This has reduced over the years as the UK moves towards decarbonising the electricity grid, with total in-use emissions having reduced by about a fifth since 1990 despite there being approximately a quarter more homes.2

This will continue with the government’s Future Homes Standard, with the first of these changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations setting new energy and ventilation requirements from 2025.

These changes will improve the energy performance of new homes, with homes being highly energy efficient, with low carbon heating and zero carbon ready by 2025.

We recognise the impact that the built environment has on carbon emissions, both from the construction of new homes and in-use emissions. We are working hard to reduce our carbon footprint and this strategic priority is part of our sustainable business strategy, which can be found here.

1. Source: UK Green Building Council.
2. Source: UK government press release - Rigorous new targets for green building revolution (January 2021).

The carbon cost of building a home

Gleeson and its supply chain emit 30 tonnes of CO2e for every home built.

Tonnes of CO2e
Plot build (scope 3)27
Infrastructure (scope 3)1
Business operations (scope 1 & 2)2

Note: Table does not include in-use emissions.

*Internal and external wall breakdown

Whilst this is a significant amount of carbon emissions per home, understanding the composition of the embodied carbon in our homes is key to the next stage of our carbon reduction strategy.

Reducing our emissions

We have already made substantial progress towards our published target of reducing our scope 1 and 2 emissions to less than 2.00 tonnes per home by 2023. Our direct emissions this year were 2.05 tonnes per home and, as a result, we have set a new CO2e reduction target of less than 1.75 tonnes per home by 2023. Our actions to achieve this are set here.

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions per home sold
(CO2e tonnes)

Source: Refer to methodology here. The chart includes in-use emissions for a 10 year period for reference.

Our scope 3 emissions are currently based on estimates and industry data. In order to improve the accuracy of our scope 3 emissions, we plan to:

  • engage with our supply chain to obtain Environment Product Declarations (“EPDs”) which disclose the actual carbon intensity of materials so that we can improve the accuracy of reporting;
  • include embodied carbon intensity considerations into our sustainable procurement processes;
  • require key material suppliers to provide their environmental impact and carbon reduction plans, with these factors being considered in our procurement decisions;
  • engage with our customers to obtain actual energy usage data to improve the accuracy of our “in-use” emissions data; and
  • use this information to continue to review the design and specification of our homes to ensure they become more energy efficient, enabling our customers to live a sustainable lifestyle in their new home.

As we enhance the accuracy and understanding of our scope 3 emissions data, we will be developing our scope 3 carbon reduction strategy over the coming year.

In-use emissions

Whilst the carbon emissions from housebuilding are clearly significant at 30 tonnes per home sold, the emissions from homes in-use, even over 10 years, contributes a further 17.7 tonnes of carbon emissions.

We are looking at ways to reduce the in-use emissions for our customers through heating and energy efficiency.


We welcome the government’s ambition to achieve zero carbon homes. We are currently progressing trials of air-source heat pumps and third-party analysis shows that the benefit of this technology alone, excluding further decarbonisation of the UK electricity grid, would reduce in-use carbon emissions of the homes that we sold this year by 50% over ten years. This represents a transformative change to the way in which our homes will be heated in future and the level of carbon emissions they produce.

Energy efficiency

We pride ourselves in building high-quality, affordable homes that are energy efficient. 98.2% of our homes achieve an energy performance rating of B or above compared to the house building industry average of 85%. When compared to all other new and existing dwellings, this means that a Gleeson home produces 42% lower carbon emissions due to its higher energy efficiency

Annual emissions to heat and power a home (CO2e tonnes)

Source: Based on actual energy data from customers and EB7 - Live tables on Energy Performance of Buildings Certificates (gov.uk).

This allows us to play our part in helping our customers live sustainable lifestyles in their new homes, saving on average £450 per year against the energy costs of an existing dwelling.

Annual cost to heat and power a home

Our scope 1 and 2 emissions in detail

The table below shows the energy usage and carbon emissions for the Group in line with the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (“SECR”) requirements. All energy usage and carbon emissions originate in the UK. Our carbon emissions are calculated in accordance with the requirements of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – a Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard.

Scope analysis

1. The Group reports location-based and market-based scope 2 electricity data. Market-based data is based on the emissions from electricity purchased by the Group. Location-based uses the average emissions intensity of the UK electricity grid. Purchased renewable sources of electricity used on our sites is supported by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (“REGO”) certificates.
2. Removing the impact of Covid-19 gives an adjusted carbon intensity reference of 2.50 tonnes per home sold for 2020.

Divisional analysis

Scope 1 and 2 methodology

The Group reports the sources of material greenhouse gas emissions from its main activities, categorised as scope 1 and 2. Scope 1 comprises direct emissions from sources purchased and used by the Group, such as diesel, natural gas and liquid petroleum gas on sites and in our offices. Scope 2 comprises emissions associated with the consumption of energy from purchased electricity.

Our largest carbon emitting fuel is diesel, which is used by forklift trucks, generators, plant and machinery. Emissions are calculated using the volume of litres purchased during the year and multiplying by the applicable conversion factor to convert into CO2 equivalent.

Our second largest carbon emitting fuel is petrol and diesel for business car mileage. This is calculated by taking the total spend on fuel, compared against business mileage submissions. An average miles per gallon is used to calculate the volume of fuel burnt for business mileage. This is multiplied against a standard conversion factor to convert this into CO2 equivalent.

Due to the disruption to office-based working caused by the Covid-19 pandemic during the year, the additional gas and electricity consumption associated with our office-based employees working remotely has been estimated. This is based on estimated data and extrapolated for the proportion of employees working remotely.

Our scope 3 emissions in detail

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are only part of the equation, and the upstream and downstream emissions as a result of our operations are significant. Scope 3 includes the emissions generated by our supply chain in the services and materials that we purchase, the construction processes that we subcontract, and the in-use emissions of our homes.

This year, we have worked with external consultants to assist us with calculating our embodied scope 3 emissions for each home that we build and sell. This is set out below, on a single-year basis and over a nominal life of 60 years.

Scope 3 methodology

For emissions from plot build, all of the materials used for each house type plus emissions from construction work (including infrastructure such as roads and sewers) on site, transport, replacements, and end-of-life was used to estimate the embodied carbon emissions.

This calculation was carried out for our most common house types, collectively accounting for 91.4% of total 2021 homes sold. An estimate was used for the remaining house types to give the total annual emissions from house building.

For in-use emissions, actual energy spend data from customers was converted to energy consumption and carbon emissions, then projected forward (assuming broadly stable energy usage) to arrive at a 60-year in-use carbon emissions total for each house type.


Natural resources


Our developments are located in areas where there is a need for regeneration; typically in areas of deprivation and on brownfield sites that would otherwise remain derelict or unused. Four out of five of our homes sold are in the third most deprived areas of the country and 77% of the homes sold were on brownfield land.

We invest in our sites, creating attractive and wellplanned developments with green open space and access to local facilities. We continue to purchase land in areas that are in need of regeneration, but with good transport links and access to local facilities and employment. Page 53 sets out an example of the brownfield land remediation that we undertake.

Water stress

We typically acquire sites and build in areas of relatively low water stress, being located in the North of England and Midlands. For the year to 30 June 2021, 6% of the homes sold were in areas of high water stress. In total, less than one in five plots in the Gleeson Homes land pipeline is classified as being in an area of high water stress.

Water usage

This year, we have estimated our water consumption for sites and offices. We are currently developing a water strategy to reduce our reliance on mains water supply and incorporate grey water usage into our operating activities, this includes exploring initiatives such as rainwater harvesting on sites. Our strategy also includes improving the tracking of water consumption across the business with actual usage data, rather than estimates.

All of our homes are fitted with dual flush toilets, low flow taps and showers and water meters. They are designed to achieve a maximum internal water use of 110 litres per person per day. This is 12% lower than the requirements specified by Building Regulations, saving both a natural resource and our customers on their water bills.

Sustainable materials

During the year, we launched new policies on sustainable procurement and sustainable packaging to ensure that we are reducing our impact on natural resources. As part of this:

  • we source 99.9% of the timber we use in construction from FSC or PEFC certified sources;
  • we are engaging with suppliers to use packaging materials that are recyclable or biodegradable where possible; and
  • we will be examining alternative materials to those currently used, where these have lower embodied carbon emissions and can be more easily recycled or reused.


During the year, we launched a new sustainable waste management policy. In the year, we diverted 98% (2020: 96%) of construction waste away from landfill either being recycled or converted to energy. We are working with specialist waste management providers to continue to further improve this rate of diversion from landfill with the aim of achieving 100%.

During the year, our construction waste amounted to 13,511 tonnes, a waste intensity of 7.5 tonnes per home sold. As part of the measures being taken on sustainable procurement, packaging and waste management, we are working to reduce this figure.


It is expected that the government is likely to pass an amendment to the Environment Bill that will increase the focus on biodiversity as part of the planning process with a requirement for a 10% increase in habitat value for wildlife compared with a pre-development baseline. On many brownfield sites that have rewilded, this can be more challenging than an equivalent greenfield site. However, we are working towards these targets on all future developments and developing our biodiversity strategy.