Walking the Walk – Boutique Modern’s journey to B Corp status and beyond
We were so proud when we became the only modular manufacturer in the UK to be certified as a B Corp back in 2020, which means we measure our business against the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Certifying is an extremely rigorous process but the hard work doesn’t stop there. The B Corp movement is designed to make business a tool for good and as any company knows, there’s always more work to do to build on success.
This year, we’ve produced an in-depth Impact Report which delves into our wins so far and sets out how we will develop in the future. We believe in being open and transparent about what we have achieved and what we need to do more of.
That’s what Walking the Walk is all about – it’s no good shouting about what we believe in, without showing what we doing to back this up.
Actions as ever speak louder than words.
Construction is widely cited as the second most polluting industry in the world – there’s no getting away from this cold hard truth. But we all need a place we can call home too.
The UK construction industry is facing acute labour shortages, an ageing workforce and is struggling to attract talent.
Making homes in a factory as we do at Boutique Modern, means we employ a static workforce in a single location who build in a much safer factory-controlled environment, delivering a consistently high-quality product which is measurable in its impact and efficiency. It also means spending a lot less time outside when it’s cold and wet, because more than 60 per cent of the construction process takes place inside our factory.
We understand that to achieve our goals we need to work in partnership with our customers, employees, community and shareholders and investors, as well as considering the environment in everything that we do.
We only work with organisations with a stated ambition to provide quality and affordable housing and who are environmentally and socially responsible.
Our HR team works hard to ensure our employees are engaged and feel like they have a voice in the business, including surveys, suggestions and reports. We also make sure we stay up to date with similar roles in other businesses to ensure our offering is competitive.
Boutique Modern is proud to be part of our local community in Newhaven, so we work closely with local groups to better understand the needs of the town to support it in the best way we can. These groups include the local Colleges Group and employment organisations such as Job Centre+.
Environmental considerations and our impact on the world around us are part of every decision we make as a business and we host quarterly board meetings, plus maintain regular contact with our shareholders to keep them in the loop about our business.
As part of our journey to build a successful business which embraces purpose and profit, we set out five key pledges that we are living and breathing. So here we go:
Pledge 1. We pledge to be carbon neutral across our organisation by 2025
We have been engaging with employees to map and monitor our energy consumption in the office and the factory and have used the Normative Carbon Calculator tool to calculate our organisational carbon footprint based on our company size, activities, spending and revenue.
We conduct extensive research into the materials we use to build and the suppliers we work with in order to make the best decisions we can.
A life cycle assessment has been carried out which shows us an emissions factor per square meter of our standardised build system. This means we can calculate our organisational and part of our products carbon footprint to the best of our knowledge and will offset emissions that cannot be reduced using high quality verifiable carbon offsetting schemes.
Search for us in the SME Climate Hub committed businesses portal https://smeclimatehub.org/committed-businesses
Pledge 2. We pledge to build over 1,500 new affordable homes across the South of England between 2020 and 2030
Our aim by the end of 2024 is to hand over 48 new homes for local authorities and housing associations around the South East.
We plan to build a new factory which will double our capacity in Newhaven and we hope to build replica factories elsewhere in the South East.
Pledge 3. We pledge to generate over 1,500 new employment opportunities by 2030
To help us towards achieving this goal, by the end of 2024 we plan to create 30 more jobs and start building our new factory. We will also continue to grow our business while providing industry leading quality employment.
Pledge 4. We pledge to provide over 1.5m kWh of micro generated renewable electricity to the UK national grid by 2030
By the end of 2024 we hope to have generated 110,000KwH of micro generated electricity on homes we have completed between 2023 and 2024.
We are also planning to complete our first ground source heat pump heated project, which will reduce the electricity needed to heat water and we’re looking forward to publishing the results of our fabric first block of flats in partnership with Eastbourne Borough Council.
Pledge 5. We pledge to reduce material waste from the factory to below 3% by 2025
We will further reduce our waste to a consistent three-month average of 6.5 per cent by the end of 2024.
We will continue our partnership with The Wood Store in Brighton to repurpose our timber waste and we will roll out our waste management strategy and procedures to our construction sites to ensure this is followed at all stages.
We have also started a Waste Champions initiative – ten Waste Champions have been recruited from the factory line to develop efficient ways to reduce material waste.
Taking care of our people
We are rolling out several new benefit initiatives to all our staff in case they or their families ever need to call on support for their mental health, financial issues or addiction.
We have been hard at work growing our network of collaborators and businesses who share our commitments as a B Corp which has included launching built environment networking events in the South East.
We’re also volunteering and making donations to charities, while providing training and demonstrations to local schools and colleges to showcase the routes into construction as a career. A recent activity included our team carrying out a beach clean between Seaford and Newhaven.
We hired our first graduate trainee and we’re also going to increase our intake of work experience, apprentices and employees with T-levels by the end of 2024.
Boutique Modern cares about the environment, our team and or our social impact in line with our ambitions for profit and commercial success.
For us, it’s important that we wear our heart on our sleeves and back this up with a little less conversation and a little more action.