Report highlights role of nature-based solutions in carbon reduction

A new report curates a wealth of evidence on the sustainability benefits of nature-based solutions (NBS) – and calls on investors to increase uptake across cities and buildings.

The report forms part of IGNITION, a €4.5 million EU-funded project that aims to develop innovative financing solutions for investment in Greater Manchester’s natural environment. It brings together 12 partners from local government, universities, NGOs and business including the UK Green Building Council, to deliver business models that enable investment in large scale, green infrastructure projects. The aim is generate a significant uplift in functional green and blue spaces across the city in line with the ambitions in Greater Manchester’s 5 Year Environment Plan.

Nature-based urban solutions

The research pulled together evidence from green roofs, green walls, sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), urban parks and green spaces, and street trees – and examined the economic, social and environmental drivers for investing in NBS. It found that when all benefits are considered together, the payback of nature-based solutions far surpass their non-green alternatives.

The report aims to help organisations make smarter choices on installations by increasing the understanding of who will benefit and how. It maps the benefits of NBS across UKGBC’s impact areas: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation; Resource Use; Nature and Biodiversity; Health and Wellbeing; and Socio-economic Impact.

Climate change impacts

As well as removing carbon from the atmosphere, the report shows that nature-based solutions can tackle emissions at source by reducing energy use. Green walls and roofs provide added insulation to buildings meaning less energy is needed to heat and cool buildings. The report found that “living walls” achieve a 15% energy saving for the space directly behind the wall. Green roofs achieve an energy saving of around 7% for the space below the roof.

Alastair Mant, Head of Business Transformation at UKGBC said:

“An increasing number of building developers and owners are setting ambitious targets on carbon reduction, climate resilience, and increasing biodiversity. The data in this report illustrates how nature-based solutions can help achieve all of these, as well as provide social and financial benefits. I hope this report, and the detailed evidence base that underpins it, enables all those in the property and construction value chain to use more nature-based solutions in the projects they are involved with, be it in new construction or the improvement of existing assets.”

Amanda Skeldon, Campaign Manager, BITC. Stakeholder & Communications Technical Lead for the IGNITION project said:

“Nature-based solutions have huge potential for business, and we hope this report highlights how nature can be harnessed to satisfy a multitude of impact areas, from creating climate and wellbeing resilience to improving local economic growth and supporting biodiversity. The report provides key evidence and understanding for organisations to build business cases for nature-based solutions.”