WSBF sets agenda for 2020 inquiry

In 2018, the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) launched Bricks and Water, an evidence-based assessment of the challenges associated with sustainable housebuilding and water management in England.  Last summer we held Bricks and Water: One Year On, a panel disucssion in Parliament, where attendees challenged us to build on the recommendations within the report and focus on how we can develop resilient communities.

The WSBF's 2020 inquiry will concentrate on water efficiency, flood resilience and sustainable drainage.  It will explore the efficacy of current policy and explore items for inclusion within a Property Resilience Certificate (PRC).  Our vision for a PRC would build on the existing Energy Performance Certificate required when a home is sold or rented.  The housing crisis is an issue that is likely to remain high on any new Government's agenda and this presents a unique opportunity to ensure that our homes are designed sustainably and can deliver on the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Last November, the WSBF brought together it's members, along with selected stakeholders from the water, housebuilding, insurance, and academic sectors to develop the agenda for a series of forthcoming Parliamentary roundtables and explore the challenges and opportunities associated with development of a PRC.  The scoping session idenified the following work areas and questions, that should be adressed through the forthcoming inquiry:

  • Water efficiency & re-use: Should Government set mandatory per-capita consumption targets and introduce compulsory metering?  Should building regulations be tightened to include compulsory efficiency labelling and more ambitious standards for indoor water use and rainwater recycling?  How does usage relate to costs?
  • Management of surface water runoff and the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems:  Is the current hierarchy for disposal of surface water appropriate?  What are the enforcement mechanisms for controlling surface water volume and peak discharge?  Should there be mandatory requirements for sustainable drainage and how should developer rights to connect to traditional drainage systems be managed?
  • Property-level flood resistance & resilience: Is planning policy for assessment of flood risk appropriate?  Is there consensus on best practice for property level flood resistance and resilience?  What evidence would the insurance industry need to determine which measures lead to reduced risk and adjust premiums accordingly?
  • PRC administration and incorporation into the planning regime.  How can water efficiency, flood resilience and sustainable drainage be incorporated into the Future Homes Standard?  How could water efficiency and flood resilience fit into the SAP methodology?  Where are the best opportunities for policy change and what opportunities are on the horizon for 2019/2020?

Our Call for Evidence for this project is currently open and we are seeking written submissions.  For further information please visit our Call for Evidence page or contact Rob Allen robert.allen [at]


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    Angela Smith