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