Here, we delve deeper into the new London Plan 2021 and how Mayor Sadiq Khan has set London’s future construction and environment development.

This is relevant to architects and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through major building project requirements and build occupancy and future management.

The Mayor’s plan aims to see London a zero-carbon city by 2050. The new London Plan 2021 sets out how this will be achieved and the expectations, guidance, and requirements for architects, planning consultants, and the construction industry will ensure this target is achievable. Following consultations throughout autumn and winter, the new London Plan 2021 came into effect on 2nd March 2021 and updated reporting templates are expected in Summer 2021.

The new London Plan 2021 guidance provides supplementary planning guidance, setting a framework for architects, developers, energy consultants, and those involved from start to finish to follow for all significant building development. There is an increased requirement to demonstrate sustainable infrastructures. In particular, reports are to be submitted to monitor and provide information on the actual operational performance in an energy statement. The new London Plan 2021 sets out expected development protocols for London over the next 20-25 years.

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What is a Whole Life Cycle?

Carbon dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas. Monitoring carbon emissions from construction projects and building use throughout its life, including the end-of-life demolition and disposal, is termed the building whole life-cycle carbon assessment (WLCA). This is now a requirement to meet new reporting for the London Plan 2021 for any planning applications referred to the Mayor of London.

Still, its use is encouraged for all major planning applications and construction projects. Information provided will inform and shape future policy by identifying additional measures that can be taken to reduce emissions further. WLC includes operational carbon emissions from heating, lighting and appliances, manufacturing, maintenance, and end-of-life embodied carbons.

The WLC assessment is a three-stage process: pre-application, planning submission and post-construction and has been adopted by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).

Section 9 of the new London Plan 2021 in more detail.

We look closely at the two key areas affecting the planning process for major developments, namely SI 2 and SI 7.

SI 2 – Minimising greenhouse gas emissions

All major developments proposals must make monitoring and reporting of their operational energy performance part of the build plan. Known as the ‘be seen’ requirement, they must produce data for at least five years post-construction. The ‘be seen’ element of the guidance is relevant from the concept stage through to the operation of any major new London developments. In particular, when designing a building, architects are expected to follow and report to the GLA using predefined templates to provide verifiable, accurate information on the key performance indicators for the installation.

The first ‘be seen’ reporting stage is part of the initial planning application submission, followed by the ‘as-built and ‘in-use reporting stages to fulfil the London Plan 2021 Policy SI 2 requirements. Thermal modelling has become an integral part of an architect’s design process to demonstrate building regulation compliance easily. Thermal models subject to vigorous quality control can provide accurate energy consumption data from actual input definable information. The focus must be to ensure that we work towards net-zero carbons using embodied net-zero carbon emissions to recognise the effect a building has on the environment in its construction phase and its future operation. Improved environmental performance can only be achieved when high standards of construction using sustainable infrastructures are incorporated.

SI 7 – Reducing waste and supporting the circular economy

A Circular Economy Statement is required to support development proposals under the new London Plan requirements. These principles aim to deliver buildings to be net zero-waste over their lifetime. The new London Plan applies to all applications designated as ‘referable applications’, broadly seen as commercial buildings over 2,500m2, residential developments of more than 150 dwellings or buildings over 30m in height. There are also location factors such as whether the proposed site incorporates green belt land and its exact location within the City of London, outer boroughs, inner London, or its proximity to the River Thames. Planning consultants will need to identify whether the application is referable. However, following the new London Plan 2021 requirements is a serious consideration for all construction if we are to fully achieve net-zero carbon emissions and sustainable growth in the construction industry.

What makes a solid sustainability statement?

A new London Plan sustainability statement may include a BREEAM pre-assessment and architects and designers should seek to achieve excellent or outstanding credits. The new London Plan objective is to seek commitment to ensure that London remains active in reducing climate change and actively promotes sustainability and environmental challenges, particularly development, waste, transport and flood risk.

A sustainability statement covers urban greening, solar shading, heat recovery and passive ventilation, and water resources management through rainwater harvesting and sustainable drainage. Sustainability consulting engineers can deliver compliance and sustainability solutions for residential and commercial developments. Architects and organisations can tap into this expertise to maximise the environmental, social and governance value (ESG) and building performance impact from design and construction and future use to create sustainable infrastructures and energy modelling, which can be measured, monitored and improved over time.

SI 7 of the new London Plan also requires a circular economy statement to be submitted. All referable proposals must support a circular economy to create a net-zero carbon city by 2050. Almost 30 years away, but most certainly a target that is more readily achievable if we strive to meet the London Plan requirements for all projects, not just those deemed referable. The GLA encourages all WLC assessments to apply the policy guidance to all applications, regardless of size or location.

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Getting help

Partnering with sustainability consultants will provide guidance and assessment for third party certification schemes such as BREEAM In-use, Reset Air, Fitwell, EMS/ISO Accreditation, GRESB, Well building and Certified B Corporation will help manage and mitigate risks when planning, designing, constructing and using buildings. We ensure clients can demonstrating sustainable performance to lower running costs and maximise market value through buildings created to attract tenants and employees in buildings they love to work or live in. These will support the new London Plan 2021 requirements.

Still not sure you know all you need to about the London Plan 2021? With Sustain Quality on hand to offer industry knowledge and breadth of experience for planning requirements, architects, construction companies, and planning consultants could maximise building design in line with new London Plan 2021 requirements.

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