BSI launches sustainable communities standard

18th January 2012

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Local authorities and community groups are being offered new guidance on how to improve sustainability in their area through the new British standard, BS 8904

Developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI), 8904 aims to help bodies working in local communities to ensure “sustainable development activities” are cost-effective and engage a broad range of stakeholders.

The standard’s focus a community-wide approach rather than at an organisational-level, marks a departure for BSI, which worked with representatives from local authorities, the NHS, the education sector, Defra and community development organisations, to develop the standard.

According to BSI, 8904 provides a step-by-step process to help “embed sustainable development in everyday community life” and is aimed at helping local areas to lessen their environmental impacts and improve social cohesion, while ensuring financial sustainability.

Reacting to the launch of 8904, Professor David Jackman, chair of the Sustainable Communities Committee, said: “Communities are increasingly leading the drive for sustainable development and this pioneering standard provides a framework for generating new initiatives, building support and getting the most from an action plan. It is about building community spirit and involvement, not top-down planning.”
John Devaney, committee manager at BSI, said the new standard would allow communities to respond the increasing pressures, both from local individuals and government, to improve sustainable development.

“The launch of 8904 will be a valuable contribution to the professional toolkit in the year of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which will debate the core theme of ‘greening the local economy’,” he said. “It is expected that the pressure to improve community sustainability will only increase as climate change targets are implemented.”
8904 is the latest in BSI’s series of sustainability standards that also includes BS 8901, the sustainable events standard against which the London 2012 Olympics delivery has been certified and forms the basis for the international standard ISO 20121, due to be published this summer.

The publication of the guidance standard comes amidst the government’s controversial overhaul of national planning policy, which has faced criticism for placing economic growth ahead of environmental protection in its interpretation of sustainable development.


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