Signature Homes has signalled its intention to mitigate its house construction carbon dioxide emissions by planting around 45,000 native trees annually.
The company’s CO2 reduction programme will kick off in early 2022 and Chief Executive Paul Bull expects Signature will plant around 45 trees for every home it builds.
Mr Bull says Signature Homes commissioned its own research to determine how many trees would be required to counter the emissions from building a three-bedroom home – from supply chain and material-sourcing to transport and fuel – after finding little work had been done in that area.
“We currently sell approximately 1,000 homes a year and realised that results in a significant carbon footprint,” he says. “We were determined to make our contribution to New Zealand’s goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050 and build a better future for Kiwis.”
Mr Bull says the company will not stop at simply mitigating emissions – “our intention is to lead the industry in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from housing construction.
“We have been building homes since 1983 and our name is synonymous with quality and continuous improvement. This is part of our commitment to New Zealanders that building a new home should not cost the environment.”
Signature Homes will partner with charitable organisation Trees That Count to mitigate part of its carbon footprint and chose native trees rather than commercial radiata pine because natives not only reduced emissions but also strengthened New Zealand’s biodiversity and helped forest ecosystems thrive. By planting 45,000 native trees a year through Trees That Count, Signature is seeking to absorb around 19,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions over 50 years as those trees continue to grow.
To support the native tree initiative, Signature Homes has also signed on as a sponsor of Save the Kiwi, the national kiwi recovery programme.
Mr Bull says Signature Homes sees kiwi as much more than just an icon for Aotearoa New Zealand. “They are a strong indicator of the health of our natural environment. More kiwi in our native bush means there are fewer predators around and few predators means more opportunities for other native birds and insects to thrive.”
Save the Kiwi Executive Director Michelle Impey says a partnership with Signature Homes is a perfect match.
“Signature Homes is in the business of building better homes for Kiwi, and we’re in the business of creating safe habitat for kiwi,” Ms Impey says. “Signature Homes’ support will help to create kiwi-safe habitat all over Aotearoa through the likes of predator control and supporting kiwi conservation groups doing the hard mahi on the ground. Together, we can all work together to increase the national kiwi population.”
Trees That Count Head of Marketing and Partnerships Melanie Seyfort says the partnership with Signature Homes epitomises what Trees That Count is about.
“We are increasing native tree planting in New Zealand by providing partners such as Signature Homes with an easy, high-impact and transparent way to fund trees, in turn supporting the thousands of planters throughout the country restoring their local communities. This support will see tens of thousands of native trees planted throughout Aotearoa in projects that have a truly local impact whilst enabling Signature Homes to make a tangible reduction on their carbon footprint whilst improving biodiversity,” Ms Seyfort says.
BRANZ research has shown that new-build, detached houses are projected to contribute around one-third of the climate impact of the New Zealand detached housing sector over the next three decades, Mr Bull says.
“With that in mind, we are working with our long-standing suppliers to identify more environmentally friendly building products, with a goal of using these as standard in everyday construction - but also offering our clients additional product options that allow them to make more environmentally friendly choices,” he says.
While bio-based products such as timber and engineered wood are more climate-friendly than concrete or brick and New Zealand’s electricity is 85% from renewable sources, a new-build house is likely to double its carbon footprint over the next 30 years from energy use and maintenance.
“Under our commitment of ‘building together for a better future’ we’re also enabling our customers to be part of the solution,” he says. “We’ll be encouraging them to invest in an additional 24 trees through Trees That Count to mitigate future GHG emissions from anticipated house maintenance over 50 years.
“Our sustainability journey doesn’t end with what we can do now, it is just the beginning. Signature Homes is embarking on an ambitious plan to question everything we do.”