Changes in planning frameworks mean specifiers are utilising special customisable facing bricks and roof tiles to provide built-in eco habitats for British birds, bats and solitary bees
Wienerberger, the bricks, clay blocks and roof tiles manufacturer, has launched a new specialist report aimed at architects exploring the role of eco-habitats in the drive for biodiversity net gain across building projects.
The Changing Shape of Biodiversity in the Built Environment has been prepared by environmental specialists at Wienerberger and addresses the challenges faced by the construction industry as it seeks to meet enhanced requirements.
Why is biodiversity so important in UK town and cities?
The 2019 State of Nature Report, put together using wildlife data from a group of 50 UK conservation organisations, shows that our urban areas now hold more species than the countryside, due largely to the provision of essential components for biodiversity.
But wildlife is in a state of decline across the UK, with 41 per cent of species declining in numbers since 1970:
- Bats have fallen dramatically in numbers over the past 50 years and our most common bat, the common pipistrelle, has declined by almost 70 per cent.
- House sparrows have declined by around 50 per cent in the same period and are now red-listed as a species of high conservation concern.
- The number of swifts fell by 53 per cent between 1995 and 2016.
- The number of starlings have fallen by 66 per cent since the mid-1970s and they are also red-listed as a bird of high conservation concern.
What can architects do about declining British species?
Homebuyers and commercial property tenants have become more aware of both the environment and their own wellbeing. As a result, buildings that support local wildlife to create better outdoor spaces will become more attractive to buyers and users.
By planning for nature, architects can support developers and building users to reconnect with nature. But this relies on making informed, data-driven decisions on projects that are shaped by early communication and collaboration.
The most important point is that such measures no longer need to be costly or complex. Architects now have access to a wide range of solutions to help achieve the necessary ecological enhancements and ensure biodiversity net gain. Often these will work together to help contribute to the net gain required.
For example, eco-habitats provide a fuss-free and inexpensive option that can be introduced as supplementary enhancements on individual projects to provide durable and discreet habitats for British birds, bats, bees and other species.
What are eco-habitats?
The premise is simple. Initially driven by architect demand for more discreet solutions, integrated wildlife boxes offer durable and discreet habitats for British birds, bats, bees and other species.
Ready to be integrated into the fabric of a building as it is built or renovated, they are produced to UK standard brick and roof tile sizing for ease of installation.
Wienerberger’s range, in partnership with Habibat, is produced in the UK and can be faced in any brick type or stone, regardless of manufacturer, stone finish or suitable for render - and roofing eco-habitats are also available.
All solutions can be made bespoke to suit individual requirements for each individual project:
Specifying bird boxes
- Tailored to individual species, such as swifts, starlings and sparrows, providing space for nesting and roosting safe from predators.
- Constructed using insulating concrete block, which provides an internal roost space with access holes to suit different species, before being cladded with a brick face to match the building fabric.
Specifying bat boxes
- Solid boxes made of insulating concrete that provide an internal roost space that can be cladded appropriately.
- Suitable for most species commonly found in the UK, the single chambered unit features an integrated V system to increase the surface for bats to roost against, while allowing freedom of movement.
Specifying solitary bee bricks
- Produced to UK brick size format so they can be easily installed in place of a standard brick.
- Feature holes of varying sizes to provide resting space for different species of solitary bee.
- Solitary bees lay their eggs in these cavities before sealing the entrance with mud and chewed-up vegetation. The offspring then emerge in spring and the cycle repeats.
Biodiversity net gain is now critical for securing planning consent for new developments
Biodiversity is no longer a ‘nice to do’ in new developments. Recent changes in planning frameworks mean biodiversity net gain is now a critical requirement in order to secure planning consent for new developments.
Under the National Planning Policy Framework, developers are at risk of not securing planning consent if they do not integrate biodiversity improvements within their design.
There is currently no quantitative value assigned to eco-habitats through Natural England Metric 3.0, which provides a way of measuring and accounting for nature losses and gains resulting from development or changes in land management.
However, wider biodiversity benefits must also be considered, including the provision of eco-habitats.
That is why project teams are increasingly turning to these thoughtfully designed solutions as proactive solutions to creating spaces for wildlife rather than displacing it.
Download Wienerberger’s free specialist report, The Changing Shape of Biodiversity in the Built Environment: Exploring the role of eco-habitats in the drive for biodiversity net gain, at wienerberger.co.uk/biodiversity-report
Download the Wienerberger Eco-habitats brochure at wienerberger.co.uk/ecohabitats [PDF]
For more information and technical support, visit wienerberger.co.uk
0161 491 8200