Preserving our environment and ensuring our business practices are sustainable are key priorities for Hightown.
Our commitment to greener, more energy efficient communities influences all areas of our organisation, from the maintenance of our existing property portfolio, through to new development planning and our own offices and business activities.
A large proportion of Hightown properties have been built in recent years therefore have relatively high levels of energy efficiency. Our strategic plan aims to achieve homes with a minimum EPC rating of Band C and energy efficiency works are programmed into our annual repairs to increase the energy performance of homes.
Our 22/23 energy efficiency figures at a glance:
Our approach to building is first to focus on high levels of fabric efficiency - Fabric First – to ensure that the building is well insulated. Where renewables are required by planning, Hightown uses technologies which deliver reliable and established benefits, particularly for residents, such as solar panels for electricity and hot water.
Where appropriate, we also design water saving measures into new homes – such as dual flush toilets and water saving shower heads – as well as providing rain water butts for gardens.
Further to the requirement outlined in the Future Homes Standard that fossil fuel heating systems are no longer installed in new homes built after 2025, we have commissioned an ‘after gas’ report to consider alternative heating systems, keeping in mind the financial implications these could have for our residents.
Trialling sustainable energy solutions
As part of the UK action plan to reach carbon net zero by 2050, the Government is banning the installation of gas boilers in newly built homes from 2025. At Hightown, we have started to trial gas alternative energy solutions in preparation, including installing air source heat pumps in 158 properties at phase two of our landmark Maylands Plaza development in Hemel Hempstead.
The heat pumps work by capturing heat from outside and moving it into the home. Although the pumps use electricity to do this, the heat energy delivered is much more than the electrical energy used to power the system. This makes heat pumps an extremely low carbon heating option – one which will become greener in future as the electricity grid decarbonises with renewable energy sources.
Throughout 2023, all the fluorescent light tubes at our central offices will be replaced with environmentally friendly LED tubes, saving an estimated 78% in energy consumption and 9.75 tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to five cars driving on petrol for a year.
Our central offices already generate renewable energy through photovoltaic (PV) roof panels; in the 11 years since installation, these have saved 141 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
During summer 2022, we ran sustainability-themed events at seven Hightown estates, attended by 85 customers. Customers received information and advice on various environmental topics, including waste awareness and recycling, green volunteering opportunities and the ‘Energy Doctor’ energy advice scheme. Meanwhile, we continue to encourage customers to consider their impact on the environment via regular communications on our website and through our resident newsletter.