Biodiversity for Low and Zero Carbon Buildings: A Technical Guide for New Build (Book Review)

Though it may seem like a no-brainer to some, incorporating and encouraging biodiversity-friendliness in newer sustainable buildings is a must. With major declines observed in bee, bat, bird and other critical species, it makes sense that newer built environments now being designed with zero- or low-carbon status in mind should also integrate ways to boost wildlife diversity as well. That's the premise of Biodiversity for Low and Zero Carbon Buildings: A Technical Guide for New Build by Dr. Carol Williams, and as the one of the first manuals of its kind, it does a fine job of bringing to light the issues and possible design solutions for increasing biodiversity from the get-go in building design.Dr. Williams, who is associated with the UK-based Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), points out that imperfections in the craftsmanship of traditional buildings allowed certain species to find ecological niches and roosting opportunities right alongside humans.

Not so with newer, 'air-tight' construction, hence the need to accommodate and integrate built-in habitats for now-threatened species ranging from certain bats, owls and peregrine falcons. Thus, the book is apparently the first of its kind to consciously target biodiversity enhancement in new developments, rather than retrofitting existing structures.

Dr. Williams rightfully cautions that:

Unless biodiversity is considered early on in the design process, these ever more stringent demands for increased energy efficiency of buidlings will lead to losses in the biodiversity that have shared our built environment for centuries. This book addresses this issue because if we do not, there will be very few, if any, future roosting opportunities for bats or nesting opportunities for birds in our buildings. Without these measures, key species will be adversely affected by new developments; not only meaning a failure to achieve truly sustainable building, but also an erosion of the quality of life we all hope to experience in our working and home environments.

With a focus on the sustainable building process and wildlife in the United Kingdom, the book is practical in its scope, providing plenty of tables and technical information on how to size and orient suitable building elements that each particular species could call home.

There's also valuable information on prefabricated wildlife-friendly components from various manufacturers, plus a chapter on living walls, roof gardens and artificial lighting. Full of clearly annotated architectural drawings, colour photos and well-organized information, this book will be an excellent reference for architects and developers in the sustainable building industry.

RIBA Publishers
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Tags: Architects | Conservation