All buildings and infrastructure should use ‘nature-based solutions’ to ensure they are climate-resilient, according to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC)
The organisation has said that, by 2030, every new building should make maximum use of planting to improve their resilience and make higher environmental net gains.
The charity gives the example of cities being cooled through tree canopies rather than air conditioning and rainwater being stored and filtered through green roofs.
Founded in 2007 by builders and architects seeking to ‘use sustainability as a catalyst to positively transform the places people use every day’, its members include 63 architecture practices, including Foster + Partners, BDP and Allies and Morrison.
Alastair Mant, head of business transformation at UKGBC, said: ‘With this simple statement, we’re providing a focal point for industry to aim for; a level of ambition that is both commensurate with the scale of the challenge and viable within our industry.’
Rory Bergin, HTA’s sustainable futures lead, said using more plants when building was important for making buildings which people will want to live in for a long time.
He said: ‘You have to make great places where people want to live. There is no point building something which is zero-carbon which will have to be knocked down for something nicer in 40 years.’
The use of nature in developments is well understood, Bergin added, but is often only introduced by landscape architects – who are not always used by developers.
While big housebuilders could benefit from the improvement in placemaking offered by nature, ‘some housebuilders are not trained or equipped to think in the long term,’ he added.
Bill Dunster, founder of zero-carbon architect ZEDfactory, said UKGBC’s sector ambition amounted to ‘fiddling while Rome burns’.
‘Nature-based’ solutions does not mean anything: everything comes from nature, ultimately’, he said. ‘What matters is the ecological footprint of a building, and we have developed a whole science for calculating that.’
‘We need to make buildings which are as energy-efficient as possible, built to last, which have renewable energy sources, and use materials which reduce the embodied carbon footprint.’