Sustainability is built into everything we do
Board member Mark Hallett tells us why sustainability has been a priority of Goram Homes’ right from the very beginning.
Tell us about your role with igloo and Goram Homes?
I’m a non-executive director for Goram Homes, and inevitably this overlaps with my day job. I am the development director at igloo, which was declared by the United Nations as the world’s first and only sustainable property investor. Sustainability and socially responsible investment run through the DNA of our company, and sustainability dictates everything we do. I was a founding director of Goram Homes and from the outset was able to ensure that these objectives were also built into Goram Homes’ business plan and ethos.
How are sustainability and social responsibility objectives built into Goram Homes business plan and ethos?
At Goram Homes, we have avoided just ‘bolting on’ sustainability to an already established plan. We know that sustainability must pervade everything we do, and for each development it must embedded in the brief before anyone puts pen to paper. We’re also mindful of all the greenwash out there and the need for independently audited and measured standards. To this end, we’re in the process of becoming a member of B Corporation, which encourages businesses to adopt the highest standards of sustainability and environmental performance. We’ve also adopted the RIBA 2030 climate challenge target which is broken down into standards that we ensure all our projects adhere to.
What do you feel are the most important things for housebuilders and developers to consider?
There are many important things to think about when considering sustainability. Often the key is in design. As a member of the design review panel of the Design Commission for Wales, I often hear the argument that sustainability adds cost, but I would argue that it also adds value. For example, orienting buildings correctly to maximise solar heat and retaining existing landscaping belts often costs nothing at all. It’s important to avoid a cookie cutter approach and design site-specific developments that consider and respond to the local community. We often hear people talk about “units to be built” but at Goram Homes we always refer to “Homes being created” which has a very different tone and emphasis.
How did you feel about Romney House winning the Bristol Property Award for Green Initiative?
It was very affirming to win that award, particularly as it’s based on the design alone. This shows that we’re thinking about sustainability even before we submit a planning application. Romney House has had a long gestation period, but It’s been important to us to get a team on board that really understands our objectives around these issues. It then takes time to ensure that every detail reflects the objectives set. So, it’s great to get that first award and hopefully it will be the first of many.
Why is the Castle Park Energy Centre exciting for Bristol?
Castle Park is genuinely innovative and using Bristol’s natural assets to reduce pressure on the district heating system is exciting. It is a great opportunity to supply local businesses and residents with sustainably generated power. We are also looking at bringing forward a special development in terms of urban design and architecture above the energy centre which is exciting.
Is there anything else particularly proud of that Goram Homes is doing?
Goram Homes has been set up by Bristol for the people of Bristol and I look forward to the feedback of residents in the new communities that are being created. Goram Homes will be around for a long time and the council will hold us to account for future generations. We therefore have a special opportunity to take a long-term view. Housing impacts wellbeing. I have two daughters in their twenties, and I know how hard it is for young people to get on the housing ladder. I am proud of Goram Homes’ commitment to exceeding the council’s policies in their provision of affordable housing, and my hope is that we can have a positive impact on the most vulnerable in society – those on the housing waiting list.
On Sep 1st the planning committee approved Vistry Partnerships’ and Goram Homes’ plans for 268 new homes at Romney House. Read the article.