here are few areas in which sustainability is more important than in the built environment: our towns and cities, and the infrastructure that connects them, all benefit if built with the future in mind. Considering project outcomes and end users during development is essential. A well-planned built environment has the potential to unlock productivity, support the health and wellbeing of the community and have far reaching impacts on the environment today and in the future.
There are considerable economic and social benefits from increasing sustainable development across government, society and business. For businesses and investors, sustainable development enables the capability of delivering a greater return on investment with increased resilience and reduced risks long term. For society and individuals, sustainability has real tangible benefits: increased happiness from better planned and funded public spaces, better access to quality community facilities and infrastructure that works for all.
Individual aspects of sustainability are attracting attention across sectors, shaping our understanding, and looking at ways to improve measurement and management; natural capital, social value and circular economy are examples of aspects that are being developed. The challenge comes in bringing this understanding into an integrated decision-making process that can combine aspects in a consistent way and addressing the disconnects that exist. When the opportunity and importance of all aspects of sustainability are properly considered together, the outcomes are greatly improved for all.
ACE members provide a huge range of services that support the development of the built environment, therefore we should be advocates for maintaining and increasing sustainability on the agenda with our clients and with government.
The discussion paper recently shared by ACE is the first of its kind to be produced by its Sustainability group. In it we set out our views on sustainability in the built environment in the UK, which we are opening-up to the wider industry for consultation and discussion.
Our hope is to start a conversation about delivering a sustainable built environment through the creation of a strategic framework, pursuing consistency in policy and regulation, and improving the use of data and evidence in the decision-making process.
Natalie Cropp is chair of ACE’s Sustainability group and Associate Director at Tony Gee LLP.