Sustainability Journey: Crest Nicholson

Crest Nicholson has been building high quality new homes and creating great places for 50 years and is a leading developer with a passion not just for delivering homes but also for establishing vibrant, sustainable communities.

Crest Nicholson’s 2014 Annual Integrated Report Creating Value is the company’s first integrated report. It’s an approach that seeks to balance financial and non-financial factors in decision making – driving economic growth and delivering value, while creating a strong social and environmental legacy.  

Jo Wheeler, UK-GBC's Senior Sustainability Advisor shares her top picks and the key areas for consideration for the future. 

Top highlights: 

  • Crest should be congratulated for publishing its first integrated report, giving equal prominence to the reporting of social, environmental and financial issues. The company is among the first in the UK property sector to adopt this form of triple bottom line reporting. Crest has been through an extensive process internally to get to this stage - a real achievement for the business. 
  • Future vision - Crest is putting in place a ‘10 year sustainable business roadmap’ with customer focused workstreams to inform its strategy on a wide range of issues, including environmental challenges.  
  • Research and innovation – a key programme includes evaluating the performance of homes both at build-completion and long-term monitoring of occupants living in the home (Post-Occupancy Evaluation). This provides a rich source of information about how well the homes perform and how they can be improved. Partnership in AIMC4 has given the company a head start in terms of delivering higher standards through a ‘fabric first’ approach and lessening the gap between design and as built performance. Crest has also delivered its first Code level 5 home. 
  • Crest’s ‘Make Waste History’ campaign has seen a volume reduction of 6% in construction waste per 1,000 square feet built during 2014 and has set targets to reduce waste generated in the first place. 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfill in 2014. 
  • Crest is embracing new Neighbourhood Plans, viewing them as a way of better understanding the types of homes and developments the local community wish to see.  
  • Responsible/sustainable sourcing – Crest is engaging with its supply chain through sustainable procurement and timber sourcing policies and is committed to setting progressive targets for issues such as the embodied impacts of materials used in construction.  

Areas for consideration: 

  • Crest could consider adopting a process for external scrutiny of its sustainability performance and reporting by a wide range of stakeholders, including competitors, suppliers, investors and NGOs.  
  • It’s good to hear that 59% of homes built in 2014 achieved Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 and Crest’s homes deliver an average of 18% lower carbon emissions than required by Building Regulations. Crest could consider setting a target for all developments to meet minimum sustainability standards on a range of issues, which exceed building regulations, in line with other leading developers. 
  • As part of its 10 year sustainable business roadmap, Crest could consider setting clear and long term stretching targets on a wide range of sustainability issues – including an overarching GHG emissions reduction target. Setting long term targets would serve as a powerful marker for the business to aim for and demonstrate leadership in the sector. 
  • Sharing lessons learned and best practice - Building on the work Crest has done through AIMC4, could they do more to share the lessons learned on all developments – both good and bad – with their supply chain and the wider industry?

Helpful resources: 

In relation to the recommendations above, the following resources could be helpful, and can be accessed at the UK-GBCs online platform – Pinpoint.