Fund green building not roads

More money should go from heavy engineering projects such as roads into green schemes, a leading government advisory body says.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has launched a Grey to Green campaign in a bid to boost the amount of public money spent on green infrastructure.

Richard Simmons, CABE chief executive, writes into the accompanying campaign report: “We do need grey infrastructure, of course. But there is a glaring imbalance in the funding and skills available to each, which is the reason for our campaign.

“I think this imbalance is nonsensical, given the fundamental role that green infrastructure plays in helping us to address climate change, public health, biodiversity and community cohesion.”

CABE, which launched the campaign earlier this month (Wednesday, November 11), argues green schemes are multifunctional unlike most grey infrastructure.

For example, a combination of living roofs, trees and landscaped areas improves the look of an area, acts as a flood defence, absorbs heavy rainfall, insulates or shades buildings reducing heating and air conditioning demands and offers exercise spaces boosting public health.

CABE says accountants calculate a small shift in spending from grey to green would spark a massive boost investment in urban green space.

The £1.28 billion budget for widening a section of the M25 could pay for 3.2 million trees to store three million tonnes of carbon create 5,000 miles of greenways for cyclists and pedestrians, it says.

It wants local authorities to appoint a cabinet member responsible for green infrastructure and a landscape architect to coordinate the policy across departments.

It also proposes a city gardener for each local authority and councillors to organise regular “green surgeries” for their wards.

At national level, the commission is calling for a green infrastructure taskforce – a panel of national experts to shape environmental policy.

The report concludes: “Green infrastructure needs to be championed at the highest level. It demands fresh thinking, refined technical skills and visionary political commitment.”

To read the campaign report, Grey to Green: How We Shift Funding and Skill to Green Our Cities, visit the following link:

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