Single-family Build to Rent lettings and management specialist Ascend Properties unveils an ambitious programme of environmental and social commitments, as it aims to drive greater sustainability in the sector. The company is fully aligned with the environmental and social aims of the investors it works with, as it has sustainability at the core of all its business functions.
To develop its sustainability strategy, Ascend Properties worked with specialist consultancy Skewb Green to identify the changes that would not only have the greatest environmental and social impact, but also drive ongoing benefits to occupiers and investor clients. The resulting programme of 13 commitments – fully aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainability Goals – will deliver genuine change not only for Ascend itself, but the communities it operates in and the investors it works for.
Among Ascend’s environmental commitments are: entire fleet to be electric by 2025 with 30% being achieved already; working with residents to increase smart meter adoption; planting a tree for every property let or sold (4,252 to date) and maximise recycling of waste; reducing ‘no access’ property visits through better engagement to minimise emissions; maximising usage of virtual property visits and hybrid working to reduce unnecessary travel; and annual reporting on Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions from 2023/24, with reduction targets in place.
“As the leading lettings and property manager of single-family Build to Rent homes, it is our responsibility to lead the way and show how this sector can operate as sustainably as possible. By integrating this new approach across all aspects of how our business functions, we are committing to a more sustainable future in both environmental and social terms, helping to drive change in the industry and generate a positive impact for all.
“A considerable amount of time and resource has been invested in creating this new strategy, and we believe these commitments go beyond what is commonly seen in the lettings and property management sector, reflecting the importance we place on these issues. This is about driving real change and aligning ourselves not only with the sustainability goals of investor clients, but also delivering the results that will have the greatest impact on-the-ground.
“As the focus of Ascend has increasingly turned towards Build to Rent, and the single-family sector in particular, we decided it was time to refresh our website to highlight our capabilities in this area. The new website has been designed to underline this expertise and provide institutional clients with everything they need to know about the approach that underpins Ascend’s position as the UK’s largest manager of single-family Build to Rent assets.”Jack Wright, Head of Marketing and Sustainability, Ascend Properties
In addition, its social commitments include: employees having access to wellbeing services and in-house mental health first aider; property managers being trained in providing residents with Green Living advice; ongoing support of local charities through both volunteering and contributions; and enhancing the employee benefit programme to reward and encourage sustainable working.
This is Ascend’s first official report on sustainability, following a considerable period of strategy development, with regular reviews to be undertaken to ensure progress and reassessment of targets. Its publication publicly states for the first time Ascend’s long-held commitment to social responsibility and limiting of the environmental impact of its end-to-end operations.
To help drive the improvements and changes to working practices, the company has promoted Jack Wright to the newly-created position of Head of Marketing and Sustainability, with a comprehensive remit to work with senior leadership to deliver on the commitments. Significant progress has already been made, with a third of Ascend’s corporate fleet having transitioned to electric vehicles and 4,252 new trees planted to date.
The company is also a long-term supporter of homelessness charity Embassy, having made regular donations alongside the provision of former show home furniture on behalf of a single-family Build to Rent client – and employee fundraising events such as a Snowdon hike to help finance its work.
Embassy has plans to create a 41-home development in Manchester, equipped with a Village Hall and on-site training and mentoring facilities, to support their work in reintegrating vulnerable people back into society.