Enabling Local Implementation of Nature-based Solutions

Run from 19/01/22 - 08/02/22


Our climate is changing and the impacts on our buildings, infrastructure and way of life are set to increase. It is not enough to mitigate against future climate change, we also need to adapt to the inevitable impacts we are locked into. As highlighted through the IPCC’s ‘Climate Change 2022: Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability‘ report, much greater investment in adaptation measures and solutions is needed, in cities especially, and nature offers huge potential to reduce climate risks.

Such solutions to enable climate resilience already to exist, but they aren’t always common knowledge or well understood. And we don’t always have time to individually search for them or generate new ideas from scratch. To help seek out some of the solutions, we launched this challenge, identified through UKGBC’s Resilience & Nature-Based Solutions programme, and refined in collaboration with our member Judging Panel.

Member Judging Panel:

  • Kulbir Bhatti, Sustainability Manager & Lea Vavrik, Sustainability Analyst – Great Portland Estates
  • Juliet Staples, Senior Project Manager URBAN GreenUP – Liverpool City Council
  • Gillian Dick, Manager Spatial Planning – Research & Development – Glasgow City Council
  • Robert Winch, ESG Consultant – Hoare Lea


How can communities and local authorities implement, maintain, and assess the impact of nature-based solutions to enhance climate resilience?

Challenge context

The benefits of using Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) across the built environment have been highlighted through UKGBC’s involvement in the IGNITION Project. But we need to raise awareness of the practical solutions available today to ensure they are adopted at scale and pace. This challenge sought not only to identify key enablers that facilitate this adoption, but also to discover ways to facilitate the stewardship of NBS, and the ongoing monitoring of environmental, social, and economic impacts. This challenge focused on solutions available at the local level, we were not searching for large-scale interventions e.g. afforestation.


Solutions received were evaluated by UKGBC and our member Judging Panel. A shortlist of solutions that address the challenge well are highlighted below.


HydroloGIS identifies the most effective actions to take in the most efficient locations, as well as ranking all alternative options for how well they will reduce local problems. It is unique in mathematically calculating the current and future ability of every ‘pixel’ across a region to mitigate problems such as surface flooding, sewer flooding, water quality, erosion and infrastructure damage. It does this at 0.5m to 25m resolution, depending on the area being modelled. It also looks to maximise the delivery of multiple benefits and its numerical basis aids the quantification of service delivery. The value of a whole range of benefits – such flood damages avoided or carbon captured – can be calculated in statistical, physical or financial terms.


The user-friendly Excel tool assesses the benefits of natural capital (interventions) at the project scale. The natural capital impact is assessed across 17 ecosystem services including flood risk regulation, air quality regulation, carbon storage, recreation, and educational benefits.

However, the NATURE Tool is not just an assessment, but also a management tool. By systematically assessing the expected impact of projects on natural capital at an early planning/design stage, the tool helps to highlight the benefits of different options and designs; in particular, the impact of NBS.

Democratic Climate Model

The Model is Demsoc’s response to gaps they are witnessing in pan-European efforts to democratise climate action.

The Model is a compass, not a map. It makes us think about and commit to steps we can take towards climate resilience, democratically. In the context of Nature-Based Solutions, it provides language and tools for cities and regions to explore this question at a local level, to show, assess and celebrate progress, and reveal possibilities for changes in direction. It uses the analogy of tree canopies symbolising protection and durability for the climate resilience of where we live, work and play. Through practice, it draws us towards the social, as well as physical, resilience NBS provide.



EcoservR is a tool for mapping natural capital assets and ecosystem services developed as an open-source, free-to-use R package.

EcoservR takes data from nationally available datasets such as Ordnance Survey (OS) MasterMap, OS Greenspace, Priority Habitat Inventory, CORINE Land Cover, Crop Map of England and more to create a detailed habitat map. From this habitat map and supporting data, EcoservR measures supply for seven ecosystem services, and demand for four. Unlike spreadsheet-based tools which return a single score, EcoservR uses spatial models which consider not only the extent of different habitats but also their configuration. It returns heat maps showing the distribution of supply and demand across the landscape.


Nature4Cities is a Horizon 2020 EU-funded Research & Innovation project, that has created a comprehensive reference Platform for Nature Based Solutions, offering technical solutions, methods and tools to empower urban planning decision making. This will help address the contemporary environmental, social and economic challenges faced by European Cities.


Gentian is an innovative new company developing a service that combines satellite-based data with other sources of open or proprietary data, to deliver new products that monitor green spaces.  Their green roof retrofit product is able to identify roofs that are suitable for retrofitting through material detection to identify load bearing roofs of suitable size and location. Their biodiversity monitoring product assesses metrics on green roofs and spaces, including vegetation condition, habitat categorisation and species identification.

Tiny Forest

Tiny Forest is an innovative tree planting initiative that establishes accessible, nature-rich green spaces in our towns and cities, where they are needed most by people and wildlife.

Tiny Forest’s approach is about planting ‘the right trees in the right places’. It works with local authorities to identify locations that will maximise value by planting in areas of high deprivation, creating green corridors and greening schools.

In addition to the physical creation of the forests, Tiny Forest also empowers local communities to care for and maintain the forests, as well as partaking in scientific research at every forest planted, to assess the impacts they have over time and between forests.


ENVI-met is a high-resolution microclimate modelling system. ENVI-met is a three-dimensional microclimate model designed to simulate the surface-plant-air interactions in urban environments with a typical resolution down to 0.5m in space and 1- 5 sec in time. Typical areas of application are Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Building Design or Environmental Planning, just to name a few.

The three-dimensional microclimate simulation model ENVI-met allows users to design, simulate and analyse the impact of different NBS on the urban microclimate for any urban setting for any climate zone around the globe – from the tropics over Central Europe up to the northern regions. ENVI-met has been validated for over 20 years in more than 3.000 scientific papers.


Policysupport.org consists of a suite of tools to provide rigorous spatial evidence in development decision making.

Co$tingNature, WaterWorld and EcoActuary are sophisticated spatial policy support systems that bring together the best available spatial data in easily used web based spatial policy support systems.

FreeStation is a suite of designs for self-build low-cost internet-of-things monitoring devices and associated build, maintenance, and deployment guides for monitoring the effectiveness of nature-based solutions at spatial or temporal scales too fine – or situations too complex – for modelling.

Connecting Nature Framework

In response to the above uncertainty, Connecting Nature has developed a process tool to help organisations and individuals navigate the path towards the large-scale implementation of NBS. The Connecting Nature Framework places NBS at the core of an interactive process. The process runs through three distinct phases of development for a NBS: planning, delivery and stewardship.

Technical Solutions Guidebook

Technical Solutions is one of the Elements of the Connecting Nature Framework. The Framework helps cities and other organisations to design NBS from a systemic perspective. The Framework was developed as a process tool to help cities and other organisations navigate the path towards the large scale implementation of NBS.

The Technical Solutions Guidebook supports practitioners in navigating the technical components that go into the planning, delivery and the long-term stewardship of NBS. Technical solutions includes, for example, the type of NBS selected, the plants selected, anything that takes into account the local circumstances and, when it comes to the stewardship or ongoing management of the NBS, feeding the results of evaluation and on-going measurement into the project is also considered a technical aspect.

The Technical Solutions Guidebook supports practitioners in asking the right questions when considering social, environmental and economic benefits, needs and trade-offs. It builds on the generation of knowledge about local needs and the local context. It also considers impacts, synergies and trade-offs across scales and time.


This solution enables developers to rapidly understand natural capital impacts as they iterate through designs. It allows changes at the earliest stage of the development process, hugely increasing the likelihood of successful retention/addition of natural capital in the build stage. The solution includes 2 key outputs which will enable accessibility to a wide range of users from communities and local authorities to consultants, developers, and engineers at the design stage. The Natural Capital and Biodiversity Design Tool captures biodiversity units alongside ecosystem service values, using i-Tree Eco.

The EM|Path Approach

EM|Path is a not-for-profit social enterprise that uses a range of people-centred co-production and engagement techniques to support sustainable community development and environmental protection. EM|Path works across Europe with organisations and groups to help them develop sustainable and inclusive projects, design outputs, conflict resolution and team building.

The EM|Path Approach is a co-creative, arts-based engagement process developed within the Connecting Nature project to support cities in the design, delivery and stewardship of nature-based solutions. The EM|Path Approach uses several methods – memory work, immersion in nature, embodied reflection, eco-therapy, and body mapping – to help capture lived experiences and build our stories in and with nature. It works with communities and stakeholders to co-create meaniful connections through emotional mapping, empathetic connections, embodied reflections, embedding shared learning and knowledge and empowering communities.


GREENPASS is A Software-as-a-Service tool for evaluation, optimization and certification of climate-resilient urban planning and architecture. GREENPASS provides tailored tools for the urban planning process for new developments or retrofit – on building plot, district or entire city level. The unique expert simulation-based solution considers more than 50 scientifically accepted KPIs within 6 urban challenges: climate, water, air, biodiversity, energy & cost and vegetation & materials.


The Green Infrastructure Valuation toolkit provides a set of calculator tools to assess the value of a green asset or a proposed green investment. Where possible, the benefits of green infrastructure are given an economic value. Other quantitative contributions (e.g. number of jobs) and qualitative contributions (e.g. case studies or research) can also be provided to give a complete view of the value of an asset.

Green Participatory Budget

In 2008, Lisbon was the first European capital to adopt participatory budgeting (PB) at municipal scale, empowering its citizens to use parts of the Council’s budget each year for projects that benefit their community. Following Lisbon’s win of the European Green Capital Award 2020, the City Council decided to focus its PB process “exclusively on proposals that contribute to a more sustainable, resilient and environmentally friendly city” – a Green PB.

The Green PB, which follows the existing Lisbon PB approach, is supported and managed by the consultant firm South Pole and EIT Climate-KIC’s City Finance Lab, a body of the European Union. The total budget for the Green PB process is EUR 5 million to support climate change mitigation and adaptation projects selected by local citizens. The ‘green’ label sets aside funds for projects with positive climate change mitigation and adaptation impacts, such as cycling lanes, tree planting for street heat reduction, or water capture and storage.

Content within the solutions library is supplied by the solution providers and UKGBC offers no commercial endorsement of individual solutions mentioned. Solutions are showcased as a source of inspiration, and we do hope that you follow up with the innovators to find out more.