ILC ARTICLE

A green approach to alternative accommodation


Innovation is having a positive impact on both the demand for alternative accommodation and its associated carbon footprint, but there is still significant untapped potential.

That was the message of a panel debate held during ILC’s recent Home and Property Conference, which took place at Silverstone Race Circuit in November.

Taking part in the debate were Caroline Findlay, Managing Director, Rapid Relocate; Tim Goodman, Managing Director, ICAB; Emma Stubbs, Director, Temporary Solutions Group; and Kate Vernon, Director, Courtesy Kitchens and Bathrooms.

They explained what their own organisations were doing to support more sustainable operations, while considering the wider green opportunities within the sector as a whole.

Among the key innovations in the market now are modular design pods, which can be set up in the policyholder’s home to negate the need for alternative accommodation altogether. This delivers convenience to the customer, carbon benefits to the environment, and cost benefits to the insurer.

Emma explained, “We brought pods to the market in 2012. They were temporary kitchens or bathrooms but we’ve moved forward since then and now have a circular product that we can break down, walk into houses and then rebuild anywhere. This flexibility allows us to make something unique to suit each customer’s needs. It reduces the number of journeys necessary and obviously opens-up the possibility of the customer staying at home, which reduces the overall carbon footprint.”

Demand

This is even more valuable now with rental or short-term accommodation in such short supply.

Tim described the market as ‘very tough’, suggesting that there can be as many as 14 potential tenants for every property.

“Parents need to still get to work and kids need to get to school,” he said, “so it’s obviously better to keep the policyholder close to where they live. Plus, the longer the journey the greater the carbon footprint.”

To offset this, the panel agreed that building closer ties with estate agents and independent landlords was fundamental, and then working with them to initiate greener strategies.

Caroline said, “The challenge with the rental market is finding somewhere that is suitably priced and located. There are alternatives to finding new accommodation, such as pods, but when you need to find somewhere the decisions are largely driven by price and convenience. We need to emphasise the green credentials of a solution and offer that to the customer. At the same time, we need to encourage the hospitality sector which has been slow to adopt green practices.”

Kate agreed, saying, “There is definitely more opportunity for pods to be used, especially in modular builds, and at Courtesy Kitchens and Bathrooms we’re always looking at innovative solutions to reduce costs and carbon footprint while at the same time delivering a better service to our customers.”

On the day of the event, Courtesy Kitchens and Bathrooms demonstrated their capabilities and the opportunities of this approach by constructing a modular bathroom pod within the event exhibition hall.

Responsible

Caroline said that working with suppliers to be more environmentally responsible was part of Rapid Relocate’s ethos as a carbon literate organisation. It is also developing carbon literacy within its own workforce, with every carbon literate person reducing their carbon output by five to 10%, and has ensured that 85% of its suppliers are within a 50-mile radius to reduce scope three emissions.

Temporary Solutions Group has also been proactive in following a greener strategy.

Emma said, “There are three parts to your carbon footprint – product, manufacturing and transport. As well as developing a circular product, we got an environmental consultant in to look at our manufacturing processes and there were lots of small things we did to improve sustainability. But you have to keep looking at how innovation can reduce your carbon footprint further. A lot of the steps you can take will improve efficiency too, so cost doesn’t have to go up at all.”

Meanwhile, ICAB has now been approved for the Science Based Targets Initiative and is also introducing more electric vehicles to its fleet to cut carbon emissions.

“We have to use eco-friendly practices as much as possible,” Tim said, “but the question for insurers is, would they be prepared to pay more for sustainable properties?”

ILC’s Home & Property Conference took place at Silverstone Race Circuit. It was headline sponsored by Claims Consortium Group; Gold Sponsors Rainbow Restorations, Catalyst, Clearspeed, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Perfect Group, Polygon, Pulse, and Wiser Academy; and Silver Sponsors Crawford, eVolution Claims Management, Home Repair Network, ICEYE, Prime Disaster Response, Safeline Environmental and SD Claims.

ILC’s Home & Property division is backed by Corporate Partners: Allied Universal, Clearway, Corelogic, DAC Beachcroft, Geobear, ICAB, Innovation Group, Sedgwick, and Verisk.

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