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Sustainable Construction

We’re designing, constructing and managing our buildings to be sustainable, and provide a healthy, inspiring environment for those who work or live there.

Designing, constructing and managing sustainable buildings

We want to drive collaboration through our supply chain and wider industry, to ensure that designing, constructing and managing sustainable buildings is business as usual for us, and the sector.

Our sustainable construction framework sets out our wider sustainability aspirations and targets and how they'll be achieved through the design and construction of our properties.

Unite Students completes new £57m property to house 705 students in Nottingham
Sustainable Construction Framework

Any development activity impacts the surrounding environment, community and economy. While we consistently strive to deliver high-quality, affordable accommodation – providing great places to both live and work – it is critical we remain aware of our wider socio-economic impact.

Our framework is built around

three core principles


We remain focused on reducing the whole life environmental impact of our construction projects. Here, carbon reduction, energy efficiency and a move towards a circular economy are core elements.


We also want to go beyond reduction – we want to optimise the performance of our buildings. This pillar focuses on health and wellbeing, water and long-term resilience against climate change risks.  


We’re looking to enhance the wider impact of our projects – for people and the environment. Here, our framework focus is three-pronged – covering supply chains, biodiversity and social impact.

Designing, constructing and managing our buildings

Sustainable Construction: Our focus


Cutting greenhouse gasses from our new buildings

We're currently working to reduce our embodied carbon in line with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2030 Climate Change targets. To meet our aspirations, we'll look at the full lifecycle of our materials and use this information to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from all our development projects.

Student Recycling


Minimising the amount of energy our new buildings use

We aspire to keep our residents and employees comfortable. To do so, we need to better understand how our buildings work. Our building designs and the number of people living in the space has an impact on our energy and thermal performance. Energy consumption and risk of overheating are issues we'll be looking at in our new builds and refurbishments, too.


Reducing the impact of our products and materials

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products to keep them in the supply chain as long as possible. It also reduces the need for use new materials as much, which can have a negative environmental impact when produced, such as through mining or deforestation.


Supporting the health and wellbeing of our people

Health and wellbeing is critical throughout everything we do. Not only will our decisions impact our people at the points of manufacturing, installation, exposure in use and disposal, but the environments we create can also have a positive impact on our residents, employees and local communities’ physical and mental health.


Reducing water use in our buildings

Water consumption and management is an important issue for our developments. The largest component of energy use within our new build pipeline is Domestic Hot Water driven by showers. Our approach to green infrastructure can have a significant impact on both potable water consumption and water quality.


Making sure our new buildings are ready for a changing climate

We report under the Task Force for Climate related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) “and UK Climate Regulated Financial Disclosure (CRFD) scheme”. We plan to go further and take an even more detailed view of developments against climate vulnerability by carrying out our own climate change risk assessments.


Collaborating with our suppliers

We want to build on our existing relationships and the skill sets of our supply chain and build new relationships to drive innovation and deliver our net zero carbon and sustainability aspirations. We're committed to making a positive impact so we look to work with partners who share our sustainable values and responsible behaviours.


Biodiversity and creating green spaces for our people and wildlife

As we're a developer of typically brownfield sites, we've got a proven track record of delivering high quality green amenity space for our residents and local communities. Our buildings are designed to benefit wildlife through biodiversity initiatives such as habitat creation and brown habitat roofs, green terraces and urban wetlands.


Creating a positive social impact for our local communities

It's important we're creating buildings, places and infrastructure that supports positive environmental, economic and social impact. Our work aims to improve the quality of life of both the people within our buildings, but those in our local communities too.