To help tackle climate change and reach the mandatory goal of net zero by 2050, social housing leaders have joined forces and launched a pioneering, cross-industry collaboration.
Seven housing associations – Peabody, Home Group, Notting Hill Genesis, Orbit, Clarion, Futures Housing Group and Network Homes – together with Ground Control, the country’s largest landscape and maintenance contractor – set up the Green Spaces Advisory Board (GSAB) to share environmental and biodiversity best practices.
To empower the housing sector and the communities it serves, the GSAB will develop biodiversity measurement metrics and concentrate on developments in green space management, green placemaking, carbon offsetting and biodiversity enhancement.
“The Green Spaces Advisory Board was founded on the principle that, by working together to ‘green’ our communities, we can maximise the value of nature within the context of climate change, placemaking and resident wellbeing,” said Ria Bailes, Senior Social Housing Advisor at Ground Control and Chair of GSAB.
“When it comes to the sustainability agenda housing stock is front and centre for housing associations, but we also have vast areas of open space and trees we can bring to bear. This puts the social housing sector in a unique position to accelerate action to improve biodiversity and promote carbon capture.”
“The scale of the environmental challenge means that we must move forwards together if we are to tackle the issues effectively and at scale,” said Nusheen Hussain, Home Group and a founding member of GSAB board. “The Green Spaces Advisory Board signals our commitment to work together as a sector to support the reversal of nature’s decline, to enhance biodiversity and to empower residents to fully realise the wider societal benefits green spaces provide.”
“Following on from the lack of real progress emerging from COP26, it’s great to see housing association leaders taking the lead and plan for meaningful progress,” said Sam Jones, Social Housing Lead at Ground Control. “They know that to unlock net zero by 2050, they have to look beyond housing stock and energy efficient homes and create sustainable green communities to reach those goals.”
The foundation initiatives the GSAB will deliver include:
– developing a two-year action plan in response to the Green Communities Report
– sharing green space best practice across the housing sector and beyond
– developing and sharing ways to help residents learn about, and engage with, green space, biodiversity, and environmental sustainability
– designing a Green Space Model, detailing how housing associations can utilise green assets to help achieve net zero
– leading the development of a single, independently verifiable biodiversity metric and certification program for land under management.
At the inaugural meeting in November one of the first actions was to agree a pathway for the development of a single, verifiable biodiversity metric and for the creation of a green space best practice forum accessible by the wider industry. This includes sharing an understanding of typical environmental sustainability pathways, existing blockers for green space enhancement, resident engagement best practice, along with consideration around inclusivity, accessibility, health & safety, and ongoing maintenance.
Members of GSAB will meet quarterly.