Green infrastructure has business benefits, report argues

24th February 2015

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Patricia Bryson

Incorporating natural features in the built environment offers business opportunities, according to a report by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

Street trees, roof gardens, parks and woodlands can potentially increase the value of land and property, the report states. It also claims that natural cooling from living walls and roofs can cut the cost of running air conditioning equipment.

Conversely, a failure to incorporate green infrastructure in developments brings risks for developers such as delay or refusal of planning permission. If buildings with green infrastructure are built, occupiers may be at risk of local flooding, UKGBC warns.

The report outlines the tools that businesses can use to measure the value of green infrastructure and includes case studies highlighting best practice. Examples include Canary Wharf’s new Crossrail station, which features reed beds and water terraces to improve water quality and biodiversity.

John Alker, acting CEO of the UKGBC said: “We have to shed the image of green infrastructure as a fluffy optional extra, an additional cost or an unnecessary burden. 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 report was sponsored by Aggregate Industries, Canary Wharf Group and Skanska.

The report comes after a coalition of organisations, including the Landscape Institute, the Land Trust, the Town and Country Planning Association and Groundwork wrote to the government at the end of January to express their concern about the disappearance of online planning guidance on green infrastructure. The guidance has been archived after Natural England’s website was moved to the centralised .gov website..

The organisations fear that green infrastructure has effectively been downgraded in the planning system, since if guidance on the issue is not part of the government’s official national planning practice guidance, it will carry very little legal weight in the planning process.

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