How the UK is making strides towards carbon neutral purpose built student accommodations

Energy efficiency has been a key priority for many businesses over the past year – and a topic that continues to generate a lot of discussion among construction consultants. The need to move towards carbon neutral living is being driven by increasingly alarming statistics on climate change, as well as the commitments being made by governments across the world. In the UK, a move by Unite – the largest provider of purpose built student accommodation in the country – could take the sector one step closer towards student living that is aligned with greener and more sustainable targets.

Committing to wind power

Unite has agreed a deal with energy giant NPower that will mean that a fifth of the accommodation provider’s annual electricity is going to come from wind power over the next five years. This is a first in the rental sector and could set a precedent for more enterprises to get on board with finding alternative options for energy sourcing that don’t have such a negative impact on the planet. It’s a key part of the commitment that Unite has made to becoming net-zero carbon by 2030.

Power Purchase Agreements

The agreement entered into by Unite is a Power Purchase Agreement. These documents make it possible for corporate customers to buy renewable energy and to have more long term certainty when it comes to price. They provide enterprises that are looking to expand renewable energy infrastructure with the finance to do this and to develop new wind and solar farms. So, they are essentially a win-win for everyone and could be a crucial part of ensuring that the UK reaches its carbon neutral goals.

Unite’s commitment to sustainable construction

The power to fulfill the Unite energy requirement will come from Galawhistle wind farm in Scotland. It’s just one part of the commitment that Unite has made to sustainability and the company has already said that it’s investigating ways to enter into similar arrangements in future to make its rentals even more environmentally sound. Unite’s commitment to sustainability is a very positive example for the rental sector, and beyond, and shows that there are steps that any business can take to integrate this approach. The business’ full set of sustainability commitments looks a little like this:

  • Aiming for net-zero carbon operations and construction from 2030.
  • Reducing the impact on the environment of existing buildings by improving efficiency in areas such as water and energy use and encouraging residents to change their habits.
  • Focusing on the health and wellbeing of Unite employees.
  • Setting new targets when it comes to diversity within the business, creating more opportunities for all whatever their background, gender or ethnicity.
  • Working to raise standards across the industry, delivering value to both customers and investors.

Purpose built student accommodation is a key growth sector in the UK housing market and one that is earmarked for a great deal of future expansion given the ongoing demand for university places. This move by Unite to commit to a carbon neutral future in this way shows just what is possible and opens the door for further discussion on why this is so important.


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