Weston Homes has unveiled details of the volume housebuilder’s major commitment to sustainability, with eco-friendly construction and specification features being rolled out currently, and over the next five years, across the group’s £2.13 billion portfolio (DGV) of residential and mixed use developments in London and the south east. This includes 20 current active sites and over 7,500 new homes ranging from traditional housing to large scale urban regeneration projects.

All Weston Homes developments, either already under construction or in the pipeline, will offer a range of sustainable features including air source heat pumps and/or District Network Heating systems; home appliances chosen for their high EU Energy Efficiency Ratings and low water usage; all parking bays with Electric Vehicle charging points; PV Solar Panels; and green or brown roofs to apartment buildings.

Natural gas has been removed as an energy source within all future homes, and at many developments already underway across the portfolio, three years ahead of the forthcoming legal requirement to do so from 2025.

In order to implement the commitment to sustainability, Weston Homes has a 25-employee strong Environmental Department and an energy and sustainability team headed by passionate environmental expert Heidi Pateman.

Weston Homes take a ‘Fabric First’ approach to the design and construction of all their dwellings, including building components manufactured off-site by group company British Offsite whose two highly advanced design and development factories use highly precise automated construction techniques, trailblazing an affordable and accessible approach to British home building off-site, on a large scale.

The housebuilder’s ‘Fabric First’ approach to development refers to the clever use of building materials and construction methods for creating highly insulated floors, walls, roofs, doors and windows.

The British Offsite factories have researched, designed and built their own unique UNI system including their UNIpanels which are made complete with vents and fire stopping, 200mm of internal insulation, with another 100mm externally, allowing minimal heat to escape. It all fits together like a glove, airtight and draft-free. By carrying out the construction of these panels off-site, the process is also not at the mercy of the weather, while the efficiency of the process means that the waste of materials is minimised.

Weston Homes projects include the £350 million Abbey Quay urban village in Barking, the £60 million Grade II listed Gun Hill Park in Aldershot, the £0.5 billion 10.4 acre Lorimer Village in Goodmayes, the £50 million Town Quay Wharf in Barking, the £53 million Victoria Central in Southend-on-Sea and the £85 million The Laundry Works in Watford.

All of their homes benefit from the performance of thermally efficient windows and patio doors, reducing heat loss and maximising natural warmth from sunlight. Additional features include high-efficiency ventilation, low energy lighting and sustainable urban drainage systems, which mitigate against water pollution and flooding.

On all new sites, Weston Homes has adopted a policy of maximising the provision of Electric Vehicle charging points at all forthcoming developments such as Lorimer Village development in Goodmayes.

Weston’s large-scale apartment buildings including Victoria Central in Southend-on-Sea, Abbey Quay in Barking and Lorimer Village in Goodmayes have been designed with green roofs (a waterproofed roof partially or completely covered with vegetation) and/or brown roofs, where the substrate surface is allowed to self-vegetate. Many Weston Homes roofs are also equipped with energy generating PV Solar Panels, converting light into energy, even on a cloudy day.

In order to prevent overheating, solar gain is minimised through the provision of solar treated glazing, natural shading and where possible, natural ventilation. On some developments homes are provided with acoustically treated mechanical ventilation systems to enable a healthy indoor air quality without residents having to endure high levels of outside noise.

All Weston Homes properties have high performance, thermally efficient windows and patio doors, helping to reduce heat loss and maximising natural warmth from daylight. The windows and doors are double glazed and fitted to exacting specifications, so, unlike windows in old houses, they don’t need heavy curtains to add insulation and block out draughts. Large amounts of natural daylight decrease the need for artificial lighting, thus helping to save on electricity bills.

Where artificial light is required, Weston Homes properties are fitted with controlled high-efficiency CFL and LED lights both inside and outside. LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. There are no harmful gasses, very little heat, and a much better lifespan – now up to 50,000 hours.

Temperature controlled taps in bathrooms banish unnecessarily high hot water bills and toilets are fitted with dual flush cisterns, reducing water volume and waste.

This approach to property development achieves low carbon, sustainable homes that are less expensive to heat, and instead of simply relying on added ‘renewables’ such as heat pumps and solar panels, efficiency is designed into the fabric of the building.

The Fabric First approach enables Weston Homes new build properties to typically achieve a high B rating on their EPCs and will hopefully future-proof all new homes due to their high levels of energy efficiency and low-carbon heating. This, in turn, should help towards tackling climate change and act as a roadmap for homeowners to reach Britain’s net zero target for 2050.

The Weston Group’s considered approach to sustainability is not limited to their development sites. The British Offsite factories analyse not only the carbon footprint of their own work, but the Weston Group produces yearly reports on the carbon footprint of the entire company – the construction sites, factories, plant machinery, vehicle fleet, water consumption and their new Weston Homes 49,000 sqft head office in Takeley, Essex.

Weston Homes has also shifted the group’s company car fleet to encourage the adoption of electric cars, with every member of the Group Board and many of the wider business employees now driving electric vehicles.

Bob Weston, Chairman & Managing Director of Weston Homes says: “For over three decades, Weston Homes has continually striven to produce innovative, high quality homes to appeal to purchasers from all walks of life. There is now a strong “green premium” from homebuyers, who are increasingly aware of the importance of environmental sustainability and also want energy efficient homes which are designed to help minimise their fuel bills and running costs. This is why Weston Homes is committed to combining traditional building skills with the very latest technologies in an on-going desire to support sustainable living.”

Suzanne Aplin, Group Sales & Marketing Director at Weston Homes says: “Scientists have warned that we must act now to avoid huge climate change and that everyone including governments, companies and individuals must help in this initiative. This is why Weston Homes is committed to sustainability and why across the entire business we are looking at all ways that we can introduce eco-friendly features both into the homes we are selling and how we operate as a business.”