Draft Strategy for Sustainable Construction Part 18

posted 04.08.2009
This weeks first instalment of the recipro sustainable construction draft responses...Enjoy!

Q: One aim of the proposal would be to create an integrated approach to maintain and where possible enhance biodiversity as a result of construction sector activity. Please say what you think would be helpful to companies in the construction sector to support the aims of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.

1. One third of those who responded to this question cited the important role of the planning system in ensuring that biodiversity was taken into account in new developments. Better use might be made of the Planning Gain Supplement – or of Supplementary Planning Guidance - in implementing green infrastructure initiatives.

2. Just over a quarter of respondents identified the need for raising awareness of biodiversity issues and the role of training throughout the supply chain to improve understanding of how individual projects could contribute to biodiversity and the creation of public green space.

3. Just under a quarter of respondents cited the need for a simple guide, widely available, on biodiversity and for a list of quick wins on how to improve and protect biodiversity on projects. Many commented that there were already several relevant regulatory and good practice measures and requirements (e.g. Environmental Assessments, such as BREEAM and Biodiversity Action Plans) which might be included in the Strategy.

4. Some suggested that environmental assessment methodologies, such as BREEAM, could serve to enhance and measure biodiversity on sites. These tools could also be developed to provide credit for site-wide ecological enhancement. Environmental Management Plans such as BREEAM and Biodiversity Action Plans were existing mechanisms for helping the construction industry engage more effectively with conservation and biodiversity issues.

5. Some respondents suggested the Strategy should acknowledge the importance of a green infrastructure in delivering a range of social, environmental and economic benefits. Attenuating storm water run-off through the use of green roofs and green space was, for instance, seen as an important component of sustainable communities. To realise its full potential, considerations about the green infrastructure needed to be taken into account in development proposals from the outset.

6. Many respondents welcomed the proposal to convene a construction and building materials industry workshop. A result of this workshop might be a Draft Strategy for Sustainable Construction Chapter Title: Biodiversity set of guidance papers for the industry developed in partnership with a range of organisations such as local water authorities, Natural England, the Environment Agency, wildlife Trusts, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), the Town and Country Planning Association, CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association), BSRIA, the Building Research Establishment, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and English Heritage.

7. Some respondents favoured a stronger emphasis on the natural environment in the targets for sustainable construction. Possible targets could be impacts on biodiversity which were neutral or enhancing (e.g. in terms of species and habitats), which could be measured through BREEAM or CEEQUAL (Civil Engineering Environmental Quality and Assessment Scheme).

8. Other suggested possibilities included:

The creation of habitat maps for particular species or wildlife in the area around a site;

Encouraging consultants and developers to increase habitat links in the area as a means of enhancing the biodiversity of the site;

Options to contribute to biodiversity projects offsite; and

The development of Site Biodiversity Action Plans for projects over a certain value (say £1m).

Respondents also pointed out that initial site surveys of biodiversity could be time-sensitive (subject to seasonal variations) and delay development considerably..

Category: Business Help, environment, industry, legislation