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Construction industry 'could improve biodiversity'

The construction industry could actually improve biodiversity on sites it works on, despite its reputation as having a negative impact on wildlife and habitats.

The UK Green Building Council has today published a report from a task group on biodiversity, making recommendations to government on the issue.

The Biodiversity and the Built Environment report, provides guidance, specific to developers, landlords, contractors and consultants on enhancing biodiversity in the built environment.

It recommends improvements to the main sustainability tools (BREEAM, Code for Sustainable Homes, CEEQUAL etc) to better incorporate assessment of biodiversity.

And it makes recommendations for the industry, local and central Government which would help improve the consistency of biodiversity measurement and reporting, in order to set meaningful targets in the future.

The UKGBC is launching an online ‘biodiversity portal’ through www.ukgbc.org to help the industry better navigate the information and sign-post it to the most useful resources.

UKGBC chief executive Paul King said: “All too often our mindset is simply to reduce the negative impacts from construction and development. But it’s important to think about how we can actually increase positive impacts - for people, wildlife and the economy.

“Development done well can and should actually create habitats in which wild species thrive, and a habitat for the human species that we can all enjoy. Green roofs, living walls, and good old-fashioned parks and green spaces in our built environment can make us all feel happier and healthier, and give something back to nature. There is also evidence emerging of the economic value of biodiversity enhancement, which will be a critical driver for the industry.”

RECOMMENDATIONS IN FULL

1. Stakeholders should use the UKGBC online ‘portal’ as a first-port-of-call for information on biodiversity and the built environment.

2. Industry should use the UKGBC sector-specific biodiversity guidance

3. Existing sustainability tools should be further improved to take biodiversity into account by incorporating the principles of the proposed methodology outlined by the task group.

4. A standard method should be established for collating information about changes to biodiversity as a result of development. Targets can then be set relative to this information.

5. The industry should release information obtained on biodiversity change for use in existing reporting systems.

6. The Department for Communities and Local Government should reinstate the core output indicator for habitat areas and species within Local Development Framework guidance.

7. Guidance on measuring, reporting on, and setting targets for biodiversity should be incorporated into PPS9 and its associated guidance documents.

8. Government should consider the addition of specific features of the built environment to the list of Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats (e.g. green roofs and other biodiversity features).

9. The Sustainable Construction Strategy should incorporate the recommendations of this report and once a baseline is established, implement an annual cycle of reporting on biodiversity change. The strategy should identify a process for auditing progress against these targets.

10. UKGBC should encourage any future Global Reporting Initiative construction and real estate sector supplement to develop appropriate biodiversity indicators and then aim to publicise these indicators amongst the UKGBC membership

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