Report calls for property industry to embrace green infrastructure

Industry must recognise value of green infrastructure

The UK Green Building Council is urging the property industry to play a leading role in protecting and enhancing natural features and biodiversity in the UK’s towns and cities.

Its call coincides with the publication by the UK-GBC Task Group of a report presenting the business case for green infrastructure, which it defines as ‘natural and semi-natural features ranging from street trees and roof gardens, to parks and woodlands’.

Demystifying Green Infrastructure finds that introducing green infrastructure into the built environment offers a number of business opportunities – including a potential increase in the value of land and property – in addition to social and environmental benefits.

Aimed primarily at property developers and clients, the report also identifies business risks from failing to incorporate adequate green infrastructure into building projects – such as delays in planning, increased costs and reputational damage.

‘The property industry must step up and take a leading role in protecting cherished natural environments and reversing the loss in biodiversity that we have seen nationally,’ says John Alker, director of policy and communications, and acting CEO of the UK Green Building Council.

‘We have to shed the image of green infrastructure as a fluffy optional extra, an additional cost or an unnecessary burden,’ he adds. ‘There are a growing number of clients and developers demonstrating that green infrastructure is absolutely central to quality place-making, and that there is a clear business case for it. This has to become the norm.’

'The benefits and risks associated with green infrastructure can be felt across the entire building lifecycle, says the UK Green Building Council, ‘from planning and construction to operation, and extend beyond this to include organisational reputation, staff productivity and retention, and future proofing’.

The benefits of green infrastructure include: reduced installation and maintenance costs; reduced energy/air conditioning costs through natural cooling from living walls, roofs and courtyards; improved health and wellbeing of people. Risks associated with failing to incorporate green infrastructure, says the UK Green Building Council, include planning permission being refused or delayed, flooding, loss of valuable habitat, and ‘reputational damage through loss of client relationships/investment’.

The report, sponsored by Aggregate Industries, Canary Wharf Group and Skanska, sets out a number of tools that can be used to measure the economic, social and environmental value of green infrastructure.

It also includes 18 case studies highlighting good practice on green infrastructure conservation or enhancement. These include Canary Wharf’s new Crossrail station which features green infrastructure such as reed beds and water terraces (to provide improved water quality and biodiversity) and a new roof park (which offers a valuable new amenity and wildlife resource).

You can view the report .

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