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Location and CO2

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At a slightly attended meeting of the Construction Industry Environmental Forum, Susheel Rao of bre set out its current work on sustainability and transport. Some 10 -15 case studies of concerned firms will look at the effects of initiatives such as mobile working, management policy, and how the mix of transport modes may be improved during relocation.

Evidently CO2 and atmospheric pollution reductions are not great motivators to many businesses. bre hopes that other benefits of sustainable transport will be, such as cost/ efficiency benefits of space saving and improved location, and better-quality journeys with more modal choice. Benefits can extend to the community, for example where companies improve or run bus services.

These are some of the carrots. A significant stick may become the development of published integrated transport plans and requirements for transport projections in planning applications. bre reports its research in the summer.

Travelwise is a partnership of Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce to encourage local organisations to make travel more sustainable. Travelwise's Barbara Kelly hopes to achieve this without any sticks. Indeed, she pointed out that many local councils don't yet take transport plans very seriously in considering planning permissions.

In Hertfordshire a few big organisations with a public conscience are involved in changing travel, through flexible working times and locations, running company transport, car sharing and supporting public transport. Even Watford fc now has 200 cycle spaces. Part of Kelly's challenge is to encourage action among small firms, often too small to run their own schemes, by, for example, encouraging clusters of firms to organise car sharing.

Roger Madelin of developer Argent, which did Brindleyplace, presented himself as both idealist and hard-headed businessman. He believes that sustainable transport can make business sense for the nation and for organisations. A committed cyclist-to-work, he has been putting cycle sheds and showers in developments for five years. In a forthcoming project in Greenwich he plans showers and lockers on each floor.

More in hope than expectation, Madelin would like to see express bus lanes on motorways into major cities. But while he feels that all public transport could be improved, he is sanguine about the prospect of creating really effective public transport that would significantly displace car ownership in all but the largest, densely populated cities.

All this may not add up to a revolution in transport sustainability. But a few years ago it didn't exist. Times are changing, slowly.

Retail location

Also exploring the sustainable transport theme is the first section of bre's 'Sustainable Retail Premises'* design guide. This rehearses the location issues of energy, environment and related planning guidance.

After that it follows the breeam approach, providing annotated checklists for environmental issues and impacts at global, local and indoor scales. It does this for retail buildings, then repeats the formula, with the addition of management policies, for retail building operation and management. (This does not cover non-food retail warehousing, covered in breeam 5/93.) It is as good as its breeam predecessors.

As this concern about building operation was explored to some extent in breeam, there is not much new in approach here, except the discursive treatment of transport and location. But it isn't breeam. There is to be no advisory service and certification. Just this diy guide.

* 'Sustainable Retail Premises: an Environmental Guide to Design, Refurbishment and Management of Retail Premises'. Josephine Prior. bre Report br366. From crc, tel 0171 505 6622. 84pp. £39.50 + 10 per cent p&p. (AJ readers post-free.)

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