22 Jun 2022

Building communities that don’t cost the earth

At the tail end of 2021, the world’s media focussed on COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, held at the SEC in Glasgow. Over 120 heads of state came together to discuss the realities of climate change and agree steps that could be taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Watching from the outside it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the numbers, the science, the facts, and the scale of it all. But feeling overwhelmed isn’t a good enough reason to do nothing. I firmly believe we all have a part to play, no matter how small, and that is why I’m delighted that the Kingdom Group is sponsoring the excellence in regeneration and sustainability category at the Scotland Housing Awards 2022. I can’t wait to find out about all of the amazing things that are being done within our sector that contribute to tackling the climate emergency.

At Kingdom, sustainability isn’t something that’s new to us

We’ve had a Sustainability Policy in place for over 20 years. That means for over two decades we’ve been focused on our environmental impact and the effect that has on our communities. We’ve certainly learned lessons along the way and I’m sure we didn’t get everything right the first time, but once you accept there may be a learning curve, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get started.

In 2010, Kingdom Housing Association led the way in green social housing by developing the first home for social rent in the UK that achieved Passivhaus accreditation. The home in Pittenweem featured a closed panel construction method, air-source heat pump, mechanical ventilation heat recovery, and solar thermal and photovoltaic panels. Fast forward to now and Kingdom is developing 30 new eco-friendly Passivhaus homes in Gauldry.

Our development programme is centred around sustainability, including projects that adopt low-carbon heating solutions by tapping into local district heating networks to ensure carbon reduction and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

We’re taking steps across the organisation to minimise the environmental impact of the work we do. From maximising tree planting at our sites to the installation of electric vehicle charging points in our developments and offices. We’re promoting electric vehicles to staff with discounts offered through vehicle leasing to encourage uptake and have plans to add electric and hybrid vehicles to our fleet.

Kingdom Works, Kingdom’s employability project tackling unemployment in Fife, is focussing on providing even more training courses for the rapidly expanding ‘green jobs’ sector. During the last 18 months, the training courses we provided for the renewables sector increased from around 10 per cent to around 25 per cent of the total training courses we delivered.

Much like getting to grips with the facts and figures at COP26, getting started on your own sustainability journey might seem overwhelming, but don’t be put off. You can start small. You can make little changes. You can tackle one project at a time, and before you know it all those changes start to add up. Efficient homes help our customers by saving them money on their bills and efficient building processes help the environment by producing fewer emissions.

At Kingdom, our mission is to provide more than a home and by focusing on sustainability we can build homes and communities that last and that won’t cost the earth.

And you can too!

The Scotland Housing Awards are a perfect opportunity to celebrate the creativity, passion, and innovation of housing organisations and individuals across the sector in Scotland.

There are 17 categories that you can submit your nominations to, including project and individual-related awards that range from customer service, team achievements, homelessness, leadership and many more. Don't miss out, the deadline for applications is Friday, 26 August 2022. 

Written by Bill Banks

Bill Banks is the chief executive of Kingdom Group.

Bill joined Kingdom in 1987 and has a BA degree in Business Administration and a postgraduate diploma in Industrial Administration. Bill is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, non-executive director of both Kingdom Initiatives Limited & Kingdom Support and Care CIC, board member and chair of Scotland's Housing Network, a former appointee on Ruchazie HA Committee and vice chairperson of the Fife Housing Partnership. Bill was director of development  and property services and depute chief executive before being appointed as Kingdoms Group chief executive in May 2014. In addition to his chief executive responsibilities, Bill currently retains executive director responsibilities for governance, organisational support, strategic business growth, digital and HR services.