5 min read | May 17, 2024

What BNG means for Architects 

Biodiversity Net Gain presents both opportunities and considerations for architects as they navigate the evolving landscape of sustainable design and construction practices. Improving a site’s biodiversity at or above the BNG minimum threshold will be an increasingly important undertaking as BNG becomes a key requirement for all planning applications.

In particular, BNG will require much earlier consideration of a site’s habitats and ecology than architects have previously been accustomed to. Here's how it may affect their work and what they need to consider for BNG applications, from innovation to integration, and education to compliance.
California blooming like crazy after months of non-stop rains. Even deserts are covered with juicy bright flowers. The photo was made on Diamond Valley Lake a few days ago.by Sergey Shmidt

What Architects Should Know about BNG

Architects will need to be well-versed in the statutory statutory biodiversity metric and the small site metric as well as the various digital tools - like the ones provided by Joe’s Blooms - to accurately evaluate the ecological impact of their designs. Understanding how biodiversity net gain is calculated and measured will empower architects to effectively incorporate biodiversity enhancements into their projects.

Beyond the basics of biodiversity metrics, trading rules for biodiversity units should be understood to balance any needs for off-site BNG gains in cases where it’s impossible to maintain the BNG uplift on-site. In (very) brief, these offsets will balance the loss of habitats onsite through creation, enhancement and/or committed preservation of the same habitat type or a habitat of higher distinctiveness offsite.

In addition to understanding BNG metrics, calculations and units, and how they are applied, architects will need to makes sure they fully apply the principles of BNG - and should ensure that they avoid impacting priority habitats or higher value habitats while focusing on enhancing habitats (this is known as the “mitigation hierarchy”). By adopting a collaborative approach and working closely with stakeholders, architects can develop integrated design solutions that prioritise biodiversity. This interdisciplinary collaboration ensures that biodiversity considerations are seamlessly integrated into developments.

Staying up to date on local biodiversity net gain policies and regulations is crucial for architects. They will need to stay on top of compliance throughout the design process, supporting developers as they navigate permitting requirements and present their Biodiversity Gain Plans for approval. Staying updated on emerging trends, research findings, and case studies will enable architects to incorporate the latest advancements in biodiversity-enhancing design strategies into their projects.

BNG Implications for Architects

As architects are tasked with integrating biodiversity features into their designs in order for development to reach a 10% net gain in biodiversity over the following 30 years, they will need to be creative and innovative in their approach. 

There is a real opportunity for architects to envision and create projects that promote and sustain healthier ecosystems. Whether through increased green spaces, creating priority sustainable habitats or applying environmentally friendly materials, architects will lend a heavy hand in contributing to climate mitigation and ecological preservation. 

This could include features such as green roofs, living walls, or wildlife-friendly landscaping. Achieving the net gain mandates will not only require a understanding of how BNG works, but also the ability to blend it into architectural elements, creating spaces that benefit both inhabitants and the environment.

Architects will be encouraged to push the boundaries of design innovation. This might involve designing structures that provide habitat opportunities for wildlife or incorporating sustainable materials and construction techniques that minimise environmental impact.

They will also likely play a pivotal role in educating clients about the significance of biodiversity net gain and advocating for sustainable design practices. This may include explaining the benefits of incorporating biodiversity features into projects, justifying material costs, and/or highlighting the long-term value of investing in ecological enhancements.

Biodiversity net gain presents architects with an opportunity to play a pivotal role in promoting ecological sustainability through their design work. By embracing a holistic approach that integrates biodiversity considerations into every stage of the design process, architects can create built environments that not only meet the needs of clients and users but also contribute positively to the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity.

Oliver Lewis

Oliver Lewis

Founder of Joe’s Blooms
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Oliver Lewis is the founder of Joe’s Blooms, providing end-to-end digital solutions to help you create best-in-class Biodiversity Gain Plans. Expert in this field, he shares his knowledge on the Environment Bill.

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