Sustainable Master Planning

What is sustainable development?

The concept of Sustainable Development dates back to 1987, when the United Nations (UN) released the Brundtland Report. This detailed what is now one of the more widely used definitions of sustainable development:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

The idea of sustainable development has been adapted through various international and national initiatives, most recently the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 global Sustainability Development Goals (SDG).

There is now an increasing appetite for developments to move towards Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEBs), which are very high-energy performance buildings that have most of their required power subsidized by renewable energy. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPB) now requires all new buildings to be Nearly Zero Energy by the end of 2020.

What is Sustainable Master Planning?

Sustainable Master Planning helps shape sustainable cities and communities by setting out sustainability objectives from the outset. A successful masterplan will help make sustainable, inclusive and safe cities for people to live in, and enjoy, for generations to come.

Working closely with developers and architects, the process takes into account the people, transport, buildings, infrastructure, and environment, to ensure they all work harmoniously together for the benefit of the community.

Why do I need a Sustainable Masterplan?

The purpose of the Masterplan is to outline the developer’s overall vision, planning objectives, proposed uses, and development principles.

It helps to establish key sustainable assets and deliverables in vital areas including biodiversity, energy, water and waste, land use and design, socioeconomics, sustainable procurement, sustainable transport and operational management.

It also includes sustainability targets for throughout the design and construction phases. These are a set of guidelines, which should be aspired to exceed, not treated as maximum targets.

How is a Sustainable Masterplan measured?

A Sustainability Statement often accompanies a Masterplan. This report establishes the issues of sustainability, and how the Masterplan has identified and addressed them, and details information on sustainability objectives and deliverables.

The Masterplan is then assessed through a Sustainability Appraisal (SA), which reviews the contribution of the proposal to sustainable development, both in the local area and its potential national and global impacts. It highlights further opportunities for the Masterplan to contribute more positively to sustainable development through refinements to overall design and construction. The methodology used for the SA usually comprises:

  • Detailed review of current and emerging international and national policy relating to sustainability
  • Current sustainable development strategy
  • Sustainable development guidance documentation
  • Review of good practice methods and techniques regarding sustainability assessment.

The Masterplan will be used to engage stakeholders, excite communities and inform developers and architects. It will be referred back to throughout the design and construction phase to ensure all decisions are in line with objectives and deliverables. This is why it is vital that you get this right at the very outset.

Getting expert advice or support around Sustainability Master Planning can help to make to the process smoother for all involved.

To discover how our sustainability experts can help, contact Engain on 01225 459564 or

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To discuss your project requirements, please contact our experienced team