Willerby leads way with first Sustainability Report by holiday homes manufacturer

04 September 2023

Holiday homes industry innovator Willerby has become the first manufacturer in the sector to publish a Sustainability Report, detailing its mission to combat climate change and cut carbon.

The move underlines Willerby’s commitment to making sustainability a cornerstone of the business and to work with partners to pave the way to a green future for the holiday homes industry.

It’s the first time Willerby has formally and publicly reported the progress it is making in tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions, as well as the investments it is making in its people and local community.

Willerby has now committed to publishing the Sustainability Report on an annual basis, so that customers, employees and stakeholders can see the full range of initiatives it is driving forward to reduce the environmental impact of the business.

Willerby CEO Peter Munk said: “Publishing our first annual Sustainability Report is a major milestone in our journey to a low carbon future.

“It’s a very significant commitment and statement of continuing intent, particularly as issues around sustainability are especially challenging for major manufacturing businesses such as ours.

“Sustainability is now fully integrated into how we conduct our business. Everything we do revolves around our Products, People and Place and this is how we will continue to build a successful and sustainable business.

“We’re proud to be a product innovator in the vibrant holiday homes market and a sector leader in sustainability. We’re working with customers and suppliers to develop practical, sustainable solutions that make Willerby homes ‘sustainable as standard’ and provide a pathway to lower carbon emissions.

“We know we make a positive difference to people’s lives through the exceptional quality of the homes we manufacture and the fantastic lifestyle they offer. Now, we’re going further – by thinking and operating as a responsible business today, we can make a positive difference in creating a greener tomorrow.”

The first Willerby Sustainability Report details the extensive measures taken by the business, which employs almost 1,200 people at its sites in Hull.

These include:

  • Launching the Willerby GreEN Standard, the industry’s first sustainability specification, across all Willerby’s holiday homes. The Willerby GreEN Standard delivers a 28% reduction in energy usage with 250kg less carbon emitted each year for each holiday home, making it better for the planet and the pocket.
  • A further major product innovation focused on enabling the transition from liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to electricity on holiday parks.
  • Investing in two biomass boilers to heat manufacturing facilities at Willerby’s main site in Hull, powered by wood offcuts from production processes.
  • 96% of total waste recycled or recaptured in 2022.
  • 80% of suppliers from East Yorkshire or the wider Humber region, reducing transport impacts on the environment while supporting the local economy.
  • Products built to order, not for stock, thereby reducing waste and maximising efficiency.
  • A successful transition from plywood (derived from tropical hardwood forests) to “Eco-board”, a recycled product.
  • Switching all of Willerby company cars to electric or hybrid vehicles, supported by a network of electric vehicle (EV) charging points on site.
  • Reducing carbon emissions from travel to and from work through hundreds of staff taking up the company’s cycle to work incentive.

The report also sets out a raft of further sustainability initiatives currently being implemented or planned to be introduced, including:

  • Installing solar panels on Willerby’s head office building to power the offices and EV charging network.
  • Replacing fluorescent lighting with low energy LED lighting, combined with motion and occupancy sensors, to reduce energy consumption in all working areas.

Longer-term ambitions include moving towards being energy self-sufficient at Willerby’s sites in Hull through a combination of further investments in biomass plants, solar panels and wind turbines. These measures are expected to reduce annual emissions by 16% compared to 2022.

The report also outlines the significant role Willerby is playing, as a major local employer and key player in the region’s economy, in the Humber’s journey to net zero. This forms part of Willerby’s focus on Place – the city and region where the business is based.

The Humber region is the UK’s largest emitter of carbon and has an internationally-recognised net zero plan. Willerby is working with like-minded businesses, organisations and concerned citizens to achieve this goal, including through active participation in regional initiatives such as the Oh Yes! Net Zero campaign.

The Sustainability Report also focuses on Willerby’s commitment to be an inclusive employer, a more diverse, safe and equitable place to work, and to support its people to fulfil their potential.

Among many initiatives, Willerby now offers the Real Living Wage as its entry level pay rate; has significantly increased its apprenticeship programme; launched new leadership training programmes; introduced a holistic wellbeing programme embracing physical and mental health, as well as nutrition; and creating the Willerby Wellbeing Hub offering a quiet space for reflection, contemplation and mental health support.

Willerby’s commitment to an annual Sustainability Report is significant as the business is a major player in the UK holiday parks industry, as the largest manufacturer of holiday homes, building around a third of units produced annually.

Mr Munk added: “Going forward, we’re committed to reporting on our sustainability progress and new initiatives every year, in line with the publication of our annual financial accounts. The two go hand in hand, as both are built around Product, People and Place.

“Our sustainability mission is challenging, but also exciting and rewarding. We’re encouraged by the progress we have made so far and excited by the opportunities to build on these and create a successful and sustainable future, working with our customers and industry partners.”