BRE has launched a new version of its environmental assessment standard which it claims will make masterplans more sustainable

Under BREEAM Communities, new projects will be certified at the planning stage based on their impact on the area, not just on the performance of the buildings.

The scheme will rate developments on everything from climate change issues such as flooding, energy use and water efficiency, to their impact on the local community, employment and use of resources.

Certification can be awarded at two points in the planning process; either at outline stage or before the detailed planning application is submitted.

BRE says the aim is to encourage more forward thinking about sustainability in masterplans.

A pilot scheme was run last year on a number of projects across England, including the Athletes’ Village for the London 2012 Olympics (above) and MediaCity UK in Manchester.

The Athletes’ Village received a BREEAM Communities rating of 76%, and MediaCityUK 73%.

Because both were assessed at the outline planning stage they received a pass, although not all the pilot schemes did. A good to outstanding rating is only awarded on the detailed planning application. However BRE said both projects were heading toward a final rating of excellent.

“By encouraging sustainability to be considered at the masterplanning stages, we hope to facilitate a change in culture whereby these issues are addressed earlier on in the design process, locking sustainability into developments and helping to avoid expensive adjustments down the track,” BRE said.