Climate Resilience and Nature
It is now unequivocal that human influence has warmed the planet, resulting in widespread and rapid changes affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. For the built environment, this will have a consequential impact on our buildings, infrastructure, and way of life.
The IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5ºC found that we are already seeing the consequences of a 1ºC global temperature rise and that 1.5ºC is expected by 2030-2052. The UK Climate Projections found that in the UK we will see hotter drier summers and wetter windier winters. The most recent assessment of UK climate-related risks and opportunities found that nearly 60% need to be addressed urgently, and that the gap between risks and adaptation action is widening.
We are also experiencing an ecological crisis. Biologists and geologists predict we are entering a human-caused sixth mass extinction event. Human impacts on the environment are substantial: 56% of monitored species declined in the UK between 1970 and 2013.
Climate action failure, extreme weather and biodiversity loss rank as the three most potentially severe risks for the next decade. Therefore, we hope that all those working in the built environment sector will support our ambition that “by 2030, all buildings and infrastructure will, throughout their lifetime, be climate-resilient and maximise environmental net gains, through the prioritisation of Nature-based Solutions”.
To help our members and the wider built environment sector achieve this ambition we are undertaking a number of activities. They will all involve collaborating with members and we will announce these opportunities when they arise. To receive regular updates about our work on these topics please join the UKGBC Climate Resilience, Nature and Biodiversity Interest Groups by emailing Hannah Giddings.
Desired programme outcomes for 2021-2022
This programme will enable built assets to be climate resilient and maximise environmental net gains by:
- Defining ambitious and consistent commitments and standards
- Identifying challenges, solutions, and best practice
- Increasing knowledge and skills
Planned programme deliverables for 2022-23
Shaping Sector-wide Targets for Climate Resilience
The UK built environment sector currently lacks the definitions and targets needed to become climate resilient by 2050. Working with programme partners, this project aims to scope and propose an industry wide collaborative project to set new climate resilience and adaptation targets for the sector.
Meetings, roundtables, and workshops will be held with the UKGBC membership and other key stakeholders to seek views on content and approach, and key industry stakeholders and funding sources will be identified to deliver the project.
The output will be a budgeted and timelined project proposal for bringing together a multi-disciplinary team to define sector wide targets. This project plan will then be used to pitch for the required funding from grant giving organisations, including government and charitable foundations. The eventual project aims to be similar in scope and ambition to the Whole Life Carbon Roadmap.
Physical Risk Assessment Lab
Following the release of the Framework for Measuring and Reporting of Climate-related Physical Risks to Built Assets, this project aims to bring together organisations aiming to implement climate-related physical risk assessments for their built assets.
Through a series of workshop sessions, users will be taken through the physical risk assessment process, increasing understanding and collaboratively working through identified barriers. A summary output report will be produced on completion of the lab sessions identifying solutions to barriers found and containing useful case studies of the Framework in use. The user feedback given within the lab sessions will also help us improve future versions of the Framework.
Nature-Based Solutions Finance and Innovation Lab
Following the release in May 2022 of the report into the value of nature-based solutions (NBS), this project aims to bring together industry experts and built environment actors to discuss and work through the barriers of implementing and financing NBS in urban environments. Through a series of workshop sessions, attendees will be able to share knowledge, build capacity and develop innovative solutions for developments and operational assets that wish to increase nature-based approaches.
Measurement Framework for Ecological Footprinting
Utilising UKGBC’s previous work on circular economy principles to minimise the construction industry’s impact on nature, this framework aims to increase understanding around the ecological footprint of construction materials in order to improve decision making processes during project design stages. This is of particular importance in regard to forthcoming recommendations of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD).
A Task Group will help deliver the framework, drawn from the programme partners, wider UKGBC membership, and key industry organisations. The content will be created via desktop research, workshops, interviews and industry consultation.
Guidance on Implementing BNG and ENG
With biodiversity net gain (BNG) becoming a mandatory requirement and environmental net gain (ENG) principles increasingly adopted, this project aims to provide learning opportunities for individuals wanting to increase their knowledge and understanding of the two approaches. This will be completed through learning-based opportunities including roundtables, informative videos and short explainer documents, all delivered in collaboration with the programme and project partners.
Nature and Resilience Policy Playbook
We will build upon the success of our New Homes and Retrofit Policy Playbooks to include matters of resilience, adaptation, biodiversity, and NBS. The Nature and Resilience Policy Playbook will be a resource pack designed to help cities and local authorities drive up the sustainability of new and existing homes, with some scope for future consideration of new commercial buildings. The content will be created through extensive member engagement, including a number of workshops.
National Policy Advocacy
The UKGBC policy team will ensure the learnings from the programme are integrated into our national and local policy work.
We will increase the number of solutions and case studies related to this programme on our Solutions Library. We will also continually update the library with case studies covered in our existing and emerging resources. You can submit your own Solutions and/or Case Studies now via our webpage.
Presentations at UKGBC and industry events
We will continue to present the programme outputs at UKGBC events, including Learning & Development courses, and at impactful industry events.
This programme of work is made possible by our Programme Partners BuroHappold, Hoare Lea, Hydrock and JLL.
- The Value of Urban Nature-Based Solutions – This report provides guidance on the holistic assessment of the value of Nature-Based Solutions, highlighting the multiple benefits NBS can provide and the range of stakeholders who can benefit from their implementation.
- Innovation Insights: Nature-Based Solutions – This publication outlines UKGBC’s process for sourcing solutions to enable the local implementation of nature-based solutions and enhance climate resilience through retrofit which was undertaken during two climate resilience challenges in January 2022.
- A Framework for Measuring and Reporting of Climate-related Physical Risks to Built Assets – This guidance report and reporting framework includes detailed information on the climate-related physical risk assessment process at built asset scale which can be used to support the preparation of TCFD disclosure reports
- Financing the Built Asset Adaptation Gap – This short report summarises discussions held at a UKGBC hosted event on behalf of the IGNITION project, with support from the Environment Agency and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The event brought a range of key financial and built environment stakeholders together to discuss the role of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) in adapting built assets to climatic risks. The report summarises those discussions and sets out the recommended next steps for the industry.
- Investing in a Greener Greater Manchester: A nature-based solutions investment guide for local authorities – This guide outlines a range of innovative investment and management opportunities for local authorities, demonstrating the benefits and the feasibility of large scale, public-sector-led nature-based solutions delivery.
- Principles for delivering urban Nature-based Solutions – This report sets out six principles to assist developers and owners in the design, delivery, and operation of urban NBS, along with the methods that can be used to achieve them, and case studies of real-world application.
- Briefing paper: Building a market for Greener cities – In September 2020, the British Conservation Alliance and UKGBC held a webinar with The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State (Minister for the Pacific and the Environment), Conservative MPs and industry representatives in order to discuss the issue of how we create sustainable mechanisms for greening existing buildings. This briefing provides a summary of what was discussed.
- Nature-based solutions to the climate emergency: The benefits to business and society – This report is a curation of the existing evidence that demonstrates the economic, environmental, and societal benefits that nature-based solutions provide.
- Climate resilience and embracing nature: An ambition for the built environment – In November 2019, UKGBC, together with its members and wider industry, launched our sector ambition for climate resilience and nature-based solutions which we hope acts as a focal point to galvanise industry action on responding to the climate and ecological crisis.
- Making the Case for Green Infrastructure: Lessons from Best Practice – This report provides case study insights into green infrastructure decision making from the project teams and stakeholders involved.
- Course Mail Series 4 – Nature and Biodiversity in the Built Environment – Sign up to UKGBC’s Course Mail series for on-demand learning on nature & biodiversity, delivered in weekly easy-to-read emails.
- Practical how-to guide: Developing and implementing a green infrastructure strategy – This report provides insights into the practical steps to integrate green infrastructure into city projects.
- Response to Defra’s Biodiversity Net Gain Consultation – In recognition of the importance of this topic to our members we responded to Defra’s consultation on biodiversity net gain in February 2019.
- Insights into Nature and Biodiversity – We uncovered the drivers and barriers behind our Gold Leaf members’ enhancing and protecting nature and biodiversity. As well as providing key insights on the state of nature in the UK, positive industry trends, the business case for nature, and a timeline of government policy and work.
- Biodiversity net gain actor and resource map – We have developed a new tool which helps professionals better understand the landscape of initiatives and policy being worked on specifically around biodiversity net gain.
- Climate resilience actor and resource map – We have developed a new tool which helps professionals better understand the landscape of initiatives and policy being worked on specifically around climate resilience.
- Climate resilience awareness raising resources. Since 2018, we have produced a number of resources including videos to raise awareness of the impacts that climate change will have on the built environment and of the opportunities to adapt.
- Demystifying Green Infrastructure – In 2015 we produced guidance on the business case for green infrastructure and practical steps for implementation.