Corporate reporting

Telford Homes: sustainability built on strong foundations

The oft cited United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are designed to be a ‘blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’. It is therefore important for sustainability to be an essential part of a corporate’s ability to adapt to the sustainable challenges in a changing world.

The prestige of winning the Best Sustainability Report at the inaugural Strategic Comms Awards is clear evidence of so many sustainable indicators instigated by a corporate. The key to success for last year’s winner Telford Homes was a change in the way it presented the company’s embedded sustainability commitments.

‘We have been leading the way in our approach to sustainability over the last few years,’ says John O’Dwyer, group head of sustainability at Telford Homes. ‘We set an example for the housing industry back in 2020 when we became the first housebuilder to set out an integrated sustainability roadmap for the next decade, culminating in becoming a net-zero carbon company by 2030, and have been recognised for two years’ running as the most sustainable housebuilder in the UK by the ‘Next Generation’ housing benchmarking report.’

To better demonstrate its sustainability credentials, Telford Homes introduced several new initiatives in the report, from publishing its new Build to Rent (BtR) Design guide which places an increased focus on customers and ensures alignment with the ESG strategies of its investment partners, to the introduction of a Net Positive Biodiversity Guide and the creation of a shadow cost of carbon to provide clarity on both the known and unexpected costs of delivering upon 2030 net-zero commitments.

The sustainability narrative and the desire to keep changing, is central to the business ethos of the company. ‘Our mission is to become the UK’s leading BtR developer and a trusted, long-term partner to the investors that we work with – and we believe that a strong sustainability strategy is absolutely fundamental to this goal, setting us apart from other developers,’ says O’Dwyer.

He adds: ‘The world is changing, and sustainable and ethical concerns have never been higher on the agenda for those across all aspects of the development lifecycle. Therefore, to deliver on our mission, we need to not only build high quality homes, but also sustainable communities and rewarding opportunities for our partners, stakeholders, residents, and employees – and these principles form the bedrock of our Building a Living Legacy sustainability strategy.’

However, he adds that Telford Homes is never content with resting on its laurels. ‘We are constantly looking at ways to adapt and improve our sustainability strategy to ensure we are delivering the best approach for our partners, stakeholders and residents, as well as aligned with latest legislation.’

In another important move, 2021 marked the first year in which Telford Homes made its sustainability report interactive – and this approach was well received by the company’s stakeholders. ‘We’ve used interactive and animated features throughout, as well as a distinctive illustrative style, to help bring our story to life and distil a huge amount of complex information into an engaging and easy to follow user journey for readers,’ says O’Dwyer. ‘We have also introduced embedded podcasts and case study videos into the report, allowing users to learn more without overwhelming them with a huge amount of text.’

We need to build high quality homes, and sustainable communities and rewarding opportunities for our partners, stakeholders, residents and employees

The interactive and visual elements throughout the report represented an important transition from its former static reports and provided a lot of valuable lessons in how to refine and communicate the company’s key messaging. ‘These insights have led us to incorporate an added layer of video content to our future reporting which adds personality to the interactive elements and is a natural evolution in communicating our ESG agenda,’ says O’Dwyer.

As a result, the company received a great deal of positive feedback from a diverse range of interested parties and stakeholders. ‘In developing the report, we continually balanced the needs of our target audience to ensure it was accessible to both the general reader and the technical expert,’ concludes O’Dwyer.