Biodiversity net gains will be mandated via the Environment Bill once it has progressed through Parliament and this provides us all with a wonderful opportunity to create more meaningful developments… and although Building with Nature was not designed wholly to achieve just net gains, the framework can certainly help.
So how does it work?
There are 23 standards in total – five core standards, six wellbeing standards, six water standards and six wildlife standards.
The core standards provide a solid foundation and distinguish a green infrastructure approach to design from a more conventional open and green space approach. The three thematic standards of wellbeing, water and wildlife build on this foundation and help to create places that really deliver for people and wildlife.
The standards can be used freely by anyone. However, by also aiming for accreditation, they can be used to showcase achievements at both pre- and post-construction stages, to highlight what good design looks like at each stage of the green infrastructure lifecycle.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term, when talking about green infrastructure we mean multi-functional green and blue networks, for instance: using Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) that can maintain the natural water cycle, provide beautiful, relaxing spaces that promote health and wellbeing for people, and can act as wildlife havens.
So what are the standards?
Core 1 standard ensures high quality green infrastructure is an integral part of the design. For example, SuDS that retain water during heavy rainfall, and provide an area for play at other times. Streets that are designed to provide shade for pedestrians and cyclists. Water features that provide stepping stones for wildlife and have health and wellbeing benefits.
Core 2 identifies important local character features so that these can be built into design. For instance, landscape plans that reference nearby species and habitats and optimize linkages at a landscape scale.
Core 3 ensures that proposals respond to local policy, and that priorities relating toclimate change, biodiversity, health and wellbeing and sustainable transport are considered.
Core 4 aims to minimize environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions, air, soil and water quality. For instance, trees that have been selected to provide a balance between native and resilient species and have been planted in key locations to provide shade for people.
Core 5 ensures the long-term management and maintenance of all green infrastructure features, by designing to a manageable scale in order to minimize future maintenance.
The six Wellbeing standards aim to deliver health and wellbeing outcomes by encompassing principals such as accessibility, inclusivity and distinctiveness. Providing features that are available for enjoyment all year round and create a sense of social cohesion.
The six Water standards aim to manage water quantity and quality, to increase flood resilience and maximise opportunities for wildlife. For instance, by using rainwater where it fallsand by maintaining the natural water cycle.
The six Wildlife standards ensure that wildlife can flourish both within the site boundary and the wider landscape.
By ensuring connectivity between habitats and designing schemes that are locally relevant we can hopefully start to reverse the long-term decline in biodiversity.
As previously said, the standards can be applied freely. However, by working with an approved assessor, it is possible to deliver high-quality green infrastructure and maximise multiple benefitsfor end users.
So how does accreditation work?
There are three levels of Accreditation: Design Award, Full Award (Good) and Full Award (Excellent).
The Design Award recognises high quality green infrastructure at the planning and design stage of development.
The Full Award “good” recognises development that has delivered a high quality of green infrastructure.
The Full Award “excellent” recognises development that has delivered an exemplary of green infrastructure.
It is the role of the Assessor to draw together the evidence of compliance within each of the Standards. Once this has been done the next stage is to submit an application to Building with Nature for an audit. Building with Nature then assess eligibility for accreditation based on the evidence provided.
Schemes that are signed-off post construction will be invited to apply for a Building with Nature National Award. This is an opportunity to really showcase your achievements.
Director Jenni Reid qualified to be an Approved Building with Nature Assessor earlier this summer and she is now working hard to promote the standards so that we can achieve these great outcomes together!
So in addition to all these wonderful things, what else can Building with Nature deliver…
- It can turn ecological constraints into new opportunities
- It can reduced planning uncertainty
- It can help with the allocation of the right land for development
- And as already discussed, it can be a mechanism to secure biodiversity net gains
By working in collaboration, using the Building with Nature framework we can design schemes that are accessible and inclusive, resilient and locally distinctive, bigger, better and more joined up.
© Burton Reid 2018