Blog

Building with Nature – recognizing the delivery of multifunctional green infrastructure

This months blog has been written by Nick Bowen of Ian White Associates and looks at his experience of working with the Building with Nature accreditation currently being trialed in Scotland. 

Frustrated with trying to bend your masterplan to fit through BREEAM Communities shaped holes? Building with Nature is a new benchmark, developed by the University of the West of England and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to support the delivery of high quality green infrastructure. Offering technical guidance, assessment and accreditation, the scheme does not require reams of additional documentation to be prepared as evidence; rather, it gives a framework of key principles, arranged into ‘core’, ‘wellbeing’, ‘water’ and ‘wildlife’, to guide the design process and against which proposals can be assessed. The key difference is that the assessment is holistic and qualitative, capturing the overlapping, multi-functional nature of successful green infrastructure in a nuanced manner; it gives due importance to the quality and character of place and a response to local context.

Currently being trialed on 5 projects in Scotland (with the help of GCV Green Network Partnership), the Building with Nature User Guide can be used to prepare for accreditation; or it can be used as a self-assessment tool which can help the design process, ensuring no opportunities are missed. It also covers implementation and maintenance. It even has guidance and a method for assessing policies – one of the Scottish pilot projects is the green infrastructure policies of West Dunbartonshire Council.

New Bruntstane masterplan

My experience with the process on the New Brunstane masterplan (above) has been very positive – it is in depth, interconnected and the assessor has specific knowledge concerning green infrastructure rather than being a generalist of the building industry. And it seems to me to be a very effective tool to help achieve the standard of green infrastructure Scotland needs. But don’t just take my word for it; have a read of the standards and consider how you are measuring up!

We hope to see the results of the Scottish pilots this Autumn, at which point we will keep members updated.

Nick Bowen CMLI

Scotlands first edible school wall!

July’s blog comes from the winner of the 2016 CSGN Ideas Fund, urban greening research scientist and consultant Dr Lynette Robertson, talking about the successful delivery of the edible vertical garden she has created at Busby Primary School in East Renfrewshire with the help of landscape artist Marc Grañén:

Vertical gardens are a great way to liven-up school grounds in urban areas with limited green space and they help provide much-needed opportunities for pupils to connect with nature, which has been shown to be beneficial for student learning, and health and wellbeing. The importance of environmental education in schools is increasingly recognised, and this project aims to combine outdoor learning with messages on healthy eating.

Marc Grañén has gained international recognition for his work with schools in Barcelona and it’s been really exciting to work with him on a first installation in Scotland, in collaboration with Bristol-based landscape architect Alex Patience (Livegraft).

Pupils at Busby Primary school were involved in the planting of the vertical garden, using an assortment of edible plants such as strawberries and culinary herbs, as well as variety of wildflower species to help support rare local butterflies, selected with the help of Butterfly Conservation (BC) Scotland Project Officer Anthony McCluskey. Located in the school grounds, the pupils will also be involved in looking after the garden as it continues to grow and flourish, which will include biodiversity monitoring with the help of BC Scotland.

The school has been incredibly supportive of the project, they see the vertical garden as a valuable resource, providing pupils with a vehicle to explore conservation, sustainability and biodiversity as themes within their education, helping them become active participants in their community.

The installation was made possible with funding provided by the Nineveh Charitable Trust, Ernest Cook Trust, Tesco Bags of Help, and Timberplay Scotland. Initial development of the project was funded through the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Ideas Fund, which was created to inspire innovative environmental projects. The 2016 competition focused on artists and creative professionals in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

 

Angus MacDonald MSP hails success of Grangemouth Green Roof project

Angus MacDonald SNP party member for Falkirk East enjoyed a trip to a green roof opposite CalaChems reception on the 16th of April. Angus was joined by John Walker (CalaChem Building and Estates Manager), Suzanne Burgess (Buglife Scotland Manager) and Christopher Langton (from Bauder) to discuss the importance of green roofs and other green infrastructure for wildlife and people.

CalaChems green roof is over 140m2 in size and was installed in May 2015 through the Glorious Green Roof project with funding from HLF and EU life funds through EcoCo. This Inner Forth Landscape Initiative project has helped to create a stepping stone for wildlife allowing them to move and mix across the area of Grangemouth. Last year wildflowers on the roof including Kidney vetch, Thrift and Oxeye daisy provided forage for bumblebees, butterflies and even 7-spot ladybirds! An Oystercatcher also nested on the roof!

As well as providing habitat for wildlife at roof level, green roofs have a number of other benefits, including cooling the building in summer and insulating it in winter, reducing noise pollution and flooding, as well as increasing the lifespan of the roof!

Angus MacDonald MSP enjoyed his visit to the biodiverse roof and learning how it is benefitting the local area as well as CalaChem. This spring we will add extra wildflowers that will provide further forage opportunities for bees and other pollinators.

Photograph by Iain Sinclair

Water Voles in the City

The Greater Easterhouse Green Infrastructure (GI) project focuses on redeveloping 3 parks in the east end of Glasgow. At the heart of the project is the creation of new surface water management features, including daylighted water courses, swales and detention basins, linked to wider improvements to access, landscape and habitats. This in turn enables development of adjacent vacant and derelict land by reducing pressure in existing drainage networks.

An additional feature of the project is the presence of water voles at all 3 parks. In 2008 biodiversity officers were first alerted to water voles living in rough grasslands along the M8 in Easterhouse. Surveys carried out in partnership with the University of Glasgow revealed a nationally significant population of water voles in parks and greenspaces where grass had been left to grow long – including sites over 1km away from the nearest water course.

Water voles have declined by over 80% across the UK in recent years, so it was a huge surprise to find such a large population thriving in a dense urban areas. Water vole burrows are protected by law – and it is a criminal offence to disturb them without a licence from SNH. For the Greater Easterhouse GI project this has meant trapping and relocating animals from the areas to be re-landscaped – and creating new, permanent grassland and wetland habitat. The challenge now is to ensure ongoing conservation management of this unique grassland population in an area earmarked for significant development and regeneration.

Water vole burrow at Cranhill Park. Scott Ferguson

 

Greening the Grey

The University of Glasgow have been working on a NERC Integrated Green Grey Infrastructure Funded project called Greening the Grey, with the aims of addressing gaps in the knowledge of how we green the parts of our cities and towns that need to remain grey for their primary function like seawalls, pavements and bridges. The project report has recently been completed. 

This report has several key features: 

  • The first UK synthesis of measures that can be used to green grey non-building assets such as bridges, coastal flood alleviation structures, street furniture and linear assets like railways. 
  • It provides an evidence-based directory of measures that can be used to help Green the Grey, drawing on the latest scientific research and innovations in practice from around the UK and beyond. 
  • Historic, urban, mowing and coastal environments are covered including 14 case studies, 22 one page Art-of-the-Possible examples and 16 bite sized Art-of-the-Possible vignettes. 
  • A critical success factors framework has been created to evaluate the multifunctional benefits of green grey solutions compared to business-as-usual grey engineering options. 
  • The framework has been used to provide cost-benefit comparisons for the case studies and art-of-the-possible examples. 

The report can be downloaded in different formats:

The project will be continuing for another 12 months to help embed the Greening the Grey/ Integrated Green Grey Infrastructure (IGGI) concept within organisations and learn how it has been helpful in informing policy and practice.