Calls mount to design water sensitivity into urban landscapes

More must be done to drive water sensitive urban design where water cycle management is integrated with the built environment, according to a construction think tank.

Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) is an approach to design that delivers greater harmony between water, the environment and communities.

According to CIRIA, it offers “an exciting approach” to improve consideration of the entire water cycle during the urban design and development process.

This includes interlinking the management of water demand and supply, wastewater and pollution, rainfall and runoff, watercourses and water resources, as well as flooding and water pathways.

According to CIRIA’s own research within the built environment community, there is a strong need to implement WSUD strategies in the UK.

Just over half of built environment professionals (56%) thought that WSUD was rarely practised in the UK, with only 1% believing it to be commonly practiced.

In addition, 86% of respondents thought that water management was considered too late in the planning and design process for developments.

CIRIA has mapped out a template of how WSUD could be applied to commercial sites, which would encompass some form of master-planning whereby local demands for water are examined.

For example if the site were a supermarket that was adjoined by a car park and car washing facility, large demand for non-potable water from the carwash could be efficiently met using harvested rainwater from the supermarket roof and car park.

This would also ensure that in times of drought and hosepipe bans, the car wash facility could continue to function from the rainwater runoff.

CIRIA has also applied its template to housing developments and cities – it has launched an animation which demonstrates the benefits of WSUD in the UK.

Talking about the project, CIRIA project manager Louise Clarke said: “The WSUD philosophy recognises the value of water and collaboration to create fantastic places that deliver multiple benefits.”

Maxine Perella

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