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Going green – modular housing firm the first carbon neutral housebuilder

A modular housing and technology company backed by the Rueben Brothers has become the world’s first housebuilder to achieve both the Carbon Neutral International Standard and to join the United Nations Climate Neutral Now Initiative

As a signatory of the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative, Etopia Group has calculated and disclosed the current carbon footprint of the company, including international air travel, and shown a clear pathway to reducing it year-on-year.

The current carbon emissions of the firm are then directly offset using UN-certified emission reductions (CERs) and voluntary emission reductions (VERs).

What’s more, Etopia Group has partnered with One Carbon World, a grant fund set up to help organisations to become more sustainable. This means the modular housebuilder is also offsetting its emissions through ‘carbon credits’ for One Carbon World, which supports reforestation projects across the globe. 

The awards follow Etopia Group’s recent announcement that all of its homes currently have an average EPC rating of 103/100, with its highest built achieving 105/100, making them carbon negative and ‘meaning the company is producing some of the greenest homes anywhere in the world’.

Meanwhile, the Carbon Neutral International Standard is in recognition of the firm’s commitment to measuring, reducing and balancing its carbon footprint. This is demonstrated by its partnership with One Carbon World in addition to the ‘highly sustainable homes’ Etopia Group builds. 

The grant covered the measurement of the Etopia Group’s carbon footprint, all of which the company achieved net-zero emissions for, including: energy, fuel, water, waste, business travel, logistics, and commuting & materials use.

Etopia Group, with a current manufacturing capacity of more than 2,000 homes a year from its Cheshire-based factory, describes itself as an Ecitech company - in other words, an energy, construction and intelligent technology firm. 

The company uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to enhance the user experience of their home while radically reducing carbon emissions, with the technology being co-developed by Etopia Group and a major technology company. The new partnership between the two companies is set to be announced in due course.

With the government’s plans for climate neutrality by 2050 – with all greenhouse gas emissions being brought to net zero by this point – there is a pressing need to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment, where the construction industry and the buildings themselves are responsible for an estimated 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, according to the UK Green Building Council.

Etopia Group, by manufacturing homes in a factory and now signing up to the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative, insists it is creating net-zero homes and is committed to becoming a net-zero carbon company. 

Joseph Daniels, founder and chief executive of Etopia Group, which is also known as Project Etopia, said: “The climate crisis is upon us and unless we act now, the damage done will be unrectifiable. The Carbon Neutral International Standard recognises our commitment to ramping up our carbon-cutting efforts and we are proud to be working with One Carbon World to ensure that new trees are being planted across the world.”

He added: "But this is just the first step. The construction industry needs to be dragged forward into the 21st century and bring innovative technologies into both the methods of construction and the homes themselves. Our decisions are not an attempt to greenwash our image, it is about genuinely revolutionising the industry, and creating the high-quality, tech-driven net-zero homes of the future.”

Niclas Svenningsen, manager of global climate action at UN Climate Change, said: “We have seen a pronounced shift in the way individuals and industries behave in relation to the climate crisis in recent years.”

“The built environment, in particular, contributes an estimated 40% of the UK’s Co2 emissions. Energy inefficient homes and a backwards approach to housebuilding have been far too common, and if we are to radically reduce our carbon emissions, then we must look to innovate.”

He added: “We are glad to see Etopia Group applying new ways of thinking and building more sustainable homes, and welcome them to our Climate Neutral Now initiative, hoping that others will follow their example.”

Andrew Bowen, chief executive officer of One Carbon World, also commented: “Etopia Group is not only pioneering eco-products but is operating as an economical and environmental company in its own right.”

"To be the first housebuilder to be awarded both the Carbon Neutral International Standard and participation in the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative demonstrates a commitment to driving sustainability that few companies in any industries can compete with,” he added.

But he said this is just the first step on the sustainability ladder, saying more needs to be done to encourage more companies to offset their emissions and bring about real, long-term change.

“We are enormously grateful for Etopia Group's support in our reforestation mission and look forward to working with the company on a long-term basis,” Bowen concluded.

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