Update for building standards

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Building standards are set to undergo a consultation to develop a new framework for BREEAM assessment…

A consultation will take place on a draft Strategic Ecology Framework (SEF), it has emerged. Experts from the horticulture and landscape sector will give their views to develop ecological criteria for the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) UK standards.

BRE is seeking to “evolve” its standards to ensure it remains at the forefront of best practice in environmental assessment. Developments are assessed to identify the environmental impacts from all parts of its life cycle.

Spokesperson Simon Guy said: “In the past we have valued the input of ecologists, horticulturists and the landscape sector, but now we’re seeking to have a more holistic approach to it and engage with the sector from the start.”

He added: “We’re looking to evolve BREEAM to ensure it stays the best practice in the market.

“We’ve always talked to ecologists and landscape architects about BREEAM, and we’ve always gone out to them on individual criteria, but now we’re looking root and branch at what’s underpinning BREEAM.”

Feedback on the framework can be given by anyone working within a relevant sector. Working groups are also being considered to provide perspective on technical and practical aspects, as well as policy.

Guy said there would be a greater focus on the impact of a development on the community.

“A lot of developers have said BREEAM is great for individual buildings but they want to look more widely.”

Guy said developers “can see a benefit in incorporating common space and access for the public so that they are creating a thriving neighbourhood.

“When a lot of people are visiting these places, in the long term it’s better for them and their occupiers. So we’re picking up on all those issues.”

The framework aims to provide insight into a number of areas. This includes helping developers understand the existing ecology of a site before starting and during development; to protect and enhance ecological features; to limit existing ecology that may negatively impact the site’s wider ecology; and to enhance the ecological value of the site and surrounding area.

According to the website, the consultation will “…provide a common basis from which appropriate ecology-related criteria will be developed for the various BREEAM UK schemes. The Framework promotes the enhancement of ecological benefits whilst balancing this with the functionality of the asset, building or development. The aim will be to provide an incentive to consider ecology and landscape issues throughout the design, construction and operational life cycle stages.

“With this in mind, the SEF is being developed with the consideration that the content is able to be interpreted in BREEAM scheme criteria and methodologies and, as appropriate, can be readily understood and applied by a range of stakeholders involved in the BREEAM process.

“These range from designers, constructors and premises managers to ecologists and other specialist experts. Where appropriate the SEF is intended to allow application at varying levels of expertise and provide greater recognition in instances where a higher level of expertise has resulted in added ecological benefit.”

Consultation is expected to end on 5 October. To have your say visit: www.breeam.org/page.jsp?id=831.

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