The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published a guide to help developers and owners to increase the incorporation of nature-based solutions within the construction and operation of built assets.
The guide – Principles for Delivering Urban Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) – has been developed collaboratively through an extensive engagement campaign coordinated by UKGBC, which engaged at least 90 industry stakeholders across a 12-month period.
The purpose of UKGBC’s latest guide is to provide a concise overview of practical methods and best practice examples that empower influencers and decision-makers within built environment organisations “to increase the use of urban NBS as a means of ensuring climate resilience and enhancing nature”.
It sets out six ‘principles’ for delivering urban NBS, ranging from strategic inception to considerations of physical and financial risk assessment, short-term funding, long-term management and future research and innovation needs. Each principle takes a holistic approach to enhancing NBS, to drive its consideration both conceptually and practically, and across both new and existing development contexts.
The UKGBC says recommendations of the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) have led to “a growing requirement to measure and mitigate the physical risks to built assets from climate change, such as flooding and overheating”. The forthcoming environment bill will legislate for biodiversity net gain on new developments, while communities within towns and cities are requesting more green space and nature – driven in part by the effects of Covid-19.
The body says that urban nature-based solutions can provide an answer to these demands from finance, business, regulators, and communities, and this is recognised within the themes of this November’s international climate conference, COP26.
Alastair Mant, director of business transformation at UKGBC, said: “Nature has a central role to play in our response to climate risks and the ecological crisis. It provides services which protect our urban environments from the physical and financial risks of climate change, whilst making space for the plants and animals that enrich our lives. Furthermore, over the last 12 months, it has become acutely apparent that nature and green spaces can improve human health and generate social value.
“Property and construction professionals have a critical role in ensuring a positive symbiotic relationship between our natural and built environments. Through the application of the six principles outlined in this report, UKGBC is encouraging the industry to enhance the incorporation of NBS within their operations, and accelerate action to deliver greener, healthier and more resilient places.”
Tom Butcher, head of industry consultancy at the Met Office, said: “This report shows the value of working with nature as a key ally, helping to address both parts of the climate challenge by: reducing emissions from the built environment; increasing the resilience of infrastructure; and improving the quality of life and environment for local communities.”
Mathew Frith, director of conservation at the London Wildlife Trust, said: “We welcome this report; it sets out an ambitious scope of principles to help embed nature-based solutions in the design and management of new buildings and regeneration in our towns and cities.
“The growing urgency of needing to address the intertwined emergencies of the climate and nature crises, and the expectations for the forthcoming COP15 and COP26 summits, places the UK construction and building sector into a pole position of delivering innovative solutions.”
Helen Drury, sustainability lead, Tritax Management LLP, said: “I encourage all professionals to access the report as it provides actionable information on several emerging areas of importance for NBS, including measurement, innovative financing, and how to maximise functionality.”