If you work in the commercial property sector, it’s virtually impossible to go a couple of days without hearing (or reading) the word ‘sustainability.’


Sustainability has been thrust into the spotlight in recent years and is a hot topic across a huge range of industries – just about all industries, in fact. In the commercial space, demand for sustainable buildings and development practices is on the up, and rightly so. After all, taking steps to minimise our impact on the environment has benefits for everyone.


Greener commercial developments


Of course, when we speak of sustainability, it’s not just what goes on inside the buildings that matters (though we did tackle this topic in a previous blog sharing tips for a greener office). Sustainability is also an important consideration in building construction, such as how the development will impact the surrounding environment and habitat.


Directly addressing this topic, earlier this week the government set out proposals placing the environment at the heart of new housing and commercial development.


The plans for consultation, revealed by environment secretary Michael Gove, suggest that it should be mandatory for developers to deliver a so-called ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new housing or a commercial development. This means they must prove habitats for wildlife would be enhanced by the development, or left in a better state than pre-development.


Developers would also be required to evaluate the habitat and its state prior to putting their plans forward. Understandably, natural habits – like woodland and grassland – would rank higher than areas such as car parks or industrial sites for their environmental importance.


After assessing the habitat, developers would have to outline the steps they would take to boost biodiversity before they submit plans. This might include things like creating green corridors or nature spaces, or planting more trees. In cases where it’s not possible to carry out green improvements on-site, developers would need to pay a levy which would cover the costs for habitat creation or improvements elsewhere.


It’s thought the proposals would lead to better outcomes for nature and for us, as millions of pounds would be invested by developers to limit the impact building construction has on the environment.


Michael Gove said: “Mandating biodiversity net gain puts the environment at the heart of planning and development. This will not only create better places for people to live and work, but ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”


Natural England gave the government extensive advice on net gain for its consultation. The body’s chairman, Andrew Sells, called the idea ‘ambitious,’ but said it has “the potential to bring significant benefits for our declining wildlife and environment as a whole.”


If you’re a landlord or commercial agent keen to boost sustainability in your buildings, we can help. Our services span design, build and supply – if you’d like to find out more, get in touch today.