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Stonewood group set to drive down carbon footprint with help of sustainability experts

Stonewood Group is working with a leading commercial sustainability consultancy to drive down our carbon footprint and revolutionise the way we work.

The Stonewood Group, based at Castle Combe, has brought on board Wanderlands, a Bristol-based sustainability expert that works with the construction and agriculture sectors as well as schools.

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

Stonewood Partnerships managing director Sam Smart said the consultant will assess its carbon footprint, suggest ways of reducing it as much as possible and then undertake a programme of tree-planting and other sustainable measures at its developments, or on sites nearby, to offset its net carbon residue.

Tim Oliver, Wanderlands commercial and marketing director, said in the assessment the company’s operations are divided into three areas – direct emissions from areas like transportation and running generators; indirect emissions from energy suppliers and emissions from its supply chain.

“We will tell the company that it can only control what it can control and get its house in order by making changes, switching to renewable energy suppliers and so on. But when you get to the third area, the supply chain, there are many other stakeholders.

“For instance, the industry relies on concrete, which is manufactured by literally melting stone at a very high temperature, so it has a very heavy carbon footprint.”

Mr Smart 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 issues out and the management will become educated and think how to move the whole culture of the business,” said Mr Oliver. “When you’ve done everything you can you are left with a residue carbon footprint and the best way to offset that is through woodland creation and biodiversity.”

Wanderlands specialises in creating natural woodland that uses a mix of five-year-old broad-leaf trees and saplings, strategically planted to create a sustainable ecosystem of flora and fauna and ponds, supported by pollinating insects and other wildlife.

“We’re not interested in planting commercial woodland that can be felled in ten or 15 years’ time. The trees we plant will be there for 200 years,” said Mr Oliver.

“We like the 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 educate people why this is being done, we don’t drive through the long-term understanding of why it needs to happen.”

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 carbon planning. Mr Smart said adopting this approach is not only the right thing to do, it is essential to grow as a responsible business.

“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,” he 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.”

Mr Oliver added: “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.”

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