believe housing wins prestigious green business award

believe housing is flying a green flag for the north-east after landing a prestigious regional award for its commitment to the environment.

The County Durham-based housing association was named Green Business of the Year at the North East England Chamber Business Awards, held at Sage Gateshead on Thursday, 14 July.

By winning the award, believe housing went one better than last year when it was shortlisted in the same category by the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

It also secures a finalist position for the national ‘Green’ title at the British Chambers of Commerce Awards in October.

The award, sponsored by Gateshead College, recognises believe housing’s commitment to managing its environmental impact and how it has embedded its green agenda at every level.

Nik Turner, Executive Director Communities and Customer Services at believe housing, said: “We take our responsibility to the environment seriously, so much so that respecting and protecting our planet is an objective enshrined in our corporate plan.

“We have made a series of commitments to reduce our impact on the environment and are constantly looking for ways to go further, as individuals and as a business.

“The significant steps we’re taking to reduce the organisation’s impact on the planet are also empowering our staff and benefitting our customers, who are always at the heart of everything we do.

“We’re incredibly proud of this award and look forward to representing our wonderful region in the national finals.”

In 2021 believe housing achieved net zero for its business activities and became the first housing association to achieve the Carbon Neutral International Standard and the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative participation.

As one of the largest social housing providers in the north-east, with more than 18,000 homes, believe housing recognises the significant role it plays in reducing household emissions and tackling climate change.

It is investing millions of pounds, including £3.4m secured from the government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund as part of a Durham County Council-led consortium, to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes.

This will make more than 1,000 properties more environmentally friendly, make them feel warmer and reduce energy consumption to benefit customers’ finances and overall wellbeing.

The association also continues to develop its Future Homes strategy to consider how the homes of the future will meet the needs of customers, what materials they will be made of and possible alternatives to gas.

A new hire contract for believe housing’s frontline fleet has seen electric vehicles introduced, to reduce its transport carbon footprint and lower harmful emissions.

Even before the Covid pandemic, the housing association had moved to an agile way of working which has led to a reduction in mileage.

Staff are encouraged to adopt responsible habits such as using digital over print and recycling in the office and voluntary activities have included litter picks, tree planting and wildlife habitat creation in its neighbourhoods.

On Earth Day 2022, believe housing paid for a native tree to be planted on behalf of each of its 568 employees as part of the North East Community Forest.

And a staff and community allotment has being developed, near its office in Seaham.

believe housing has an extensive community investment programme and one of its key themes is to support ‘a greener, fairer future: by reducing, reusing and recycling’.

This has resulted in tens of thousands of pounds in grants being awarded to environmental initiatives, from community gardens to a food recycling and redistribution centre.

Andrea Baxter, Environmental Manager at believe housing, said: “As a large housing association we know we have a responsibility and opportunities to help tackle climate change.

“This ranges from reducing the environmental impact of our business activities and housing to helping customers and staff make informed decisions that fit into their own lives.

“Thinking about the planet also supports our core value to do the right thing for our customers, our people and our business.”