The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is currently running an inquiry focused on improving the sustainability of the built environment sector. IEMA has provided written evidence to the inquiry as IEMA’s Head of Policy Ben Goodwin, explains.

IEMA’s submission focused on two specific areas whereby sustainability could be improved in the built environment. The first relates to the more strategic management of greenhouse gases (GHG) across supply chains in the sector, while the second is concentrated on ensuring that high-quality impact assessment (IA) continues to play an important role in the future planning processes that will be in place for construction and infrastructure development.

A strategic approach to managing GHG emissions

IEMA has previously developed a GHG management hierarchy, which is geared at helping business and organisations in different sectors to be able to manage their emissions more effectively. In our evidence to the EAC’s inquiry we have called for co-ordinated action to embed the hierarchy across the built environment sector.

The hierarchy sets out how an organisation can manage its direct, purchased and supplier-based permissions through a hierarchy of:

  • Eliminating
  • Reducing
  • Substituting
  • Compensating

More detail explaining how the hierarchy works in practice can be found here.

Impact assessment in the built environment

High-quality IA is an integral part of planning and development in the built environment. Proposed reforms to England’s planning system, include those to simplify the IA regime. Whilst simplification could bring some benefits in terms of efficiency and productivity, it is paramount that it does not compromise the quality of IA overall.

Simplification of the IA regime should coincide with improving governance processes, putting in place the provision for innovation and digital IA to be adopted, whilst ensuring robust standards are in place. These are all points that IEMA made in our submission to the inquiry, which we had also previously outlined to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.

IEMA’s full recommendations to the Committee

The submission recommended that:

  • IEMA’s management hierarchy for GHG emissions is used widely in the built environment sector to improve its performance on sustainability and the natural environment.
  • The government’s planning reforms, geared at speeding up permissions, do not come at the expense of high-quality IA that is integral to safeguarding both natural and social assets.
  • IA approaches are enhanced as part of the government’s wider planning reforms, particularly in terms of mandating the use of Environmental Management Plans and embracing innovation and digitisation

The submission is available on the EAC’s inquiry page here.


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