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Ascend unveils ambitious Sustainability Commitments

Far-reaching initiatives align firm with sustainability goals of investor clients

Comprehensive programme to drive change in SFBTR property management

Ascend Properties, the leading single-family build-to-rent (SFBTR) lettings and management specialist, has unveiled a highly ambitious programme of environmental and social commitments as it seeks to drive greater sustainability in the sector.

Sustainability has been placed at the core of all of Ascend’s business functions, positioning it as a forward-thinking and ethical property management partner that is fully aligned with the environmental and social aims of the investors it works with. With responsibility for managing over 7,000 institutional SFBTR homes nationwide – around two thirds of the entire asset class – the programme represents a step-change in the lettings and management sector’s approach to sustainability, providing a roadmap for best-in-class initiatives in the industry.

To develop its sustainability strategy, Ascend 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, which are 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 hybrid by 2025, 30% achieved already
  • Work with residents to increase smart meter adoption
  • Plant a tree for every property let or sold (4,252 to date) and maximise recycling of waste
  • Reduce ‘no access’ property visits through better engagement to minimise emissions
  • Maximise usage of virtual property visits and hybrid working to reduce unnecessary travel
  • Annual reporting on Scope 1&2 carbon emissions from 2023/24, with reduction targets in place

In addition, its social commitments include:

  • Employees to have access to wellbeing services and in-house mental health first aider
  • Property managers to be trained in providing residents with Green Living advice
  • Ongoing support of local charities through both volunteering and contributions
  • Enhanced 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, Ascend has promoted Jack Wright to the newly-created position of Head of Marketing and Sustainability, with a comprehensive remit to work within 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.

Ascend is a long-term supporter of homelessness charity Embassy, with regular sizeable monetary donations – as well as provision of former show home furniture on behalf of a SFBTR 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.

Ascend’s full commitments and progress can be viewed here.

Jack Wright, Head of Marketing and Sustainability at Ascend Properties, said: 

As the leading lettings and property manager of SFBTR 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.

In parallel to the commitments, Ascend has launched a new website designed to better represent its capabilities in the single-family build-to-rent sector. The renewed focus of the website reflects the firm’s prioritisation and specialisation in BTR, with its single-family expertise in particular coming to the fore.

Jack Wright added: 

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 SFBTR assets.
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