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29 Oct 2018

Two trams in a cityDo you live close enough to the places you need to get to each day such as work, school and shops?

For many people buying a new-build home, driving is their only option to get to work or other places they need to, according to a recent study by Transport for New Homes.

The pressure of building a large number of new homes has led to new developments being situated in out of town areas, far away from anything other than other homes. No one wants to be driving to the nearest petrol station for milk when they realise they’ve run out.

This over reliance on cars not only leads to traffic congestion and CO2 emissions, it also has health and wellbeing implications too. As well as contributing to poor air quality, being too far away from places also leads to people spending more time either inside a building or inside a metal box, often stuck in a traffic jam, instead of being exploring the outdoors.

Creating communities with sustainable transport links at the heart of the project not only helps to cut down on congestion and associated carbon but also makes people healthier and happier. Using public transport has the following benefits:

  • public transport users are more active by walking to stops and final destinations
  • your journey is less stressful compared to driving. You can use the time to read, listen to music or simply relax. (Although those who travel through London Waterloo at 8am on a weekday may disagree)
  • it can save you money as you only pay for the trips you make
  • it is better for the environment that driving motor vehicles
  • a full bus can take 50 cars off the road
  • reduces the need for building car parks, meaning more land can be used for parks and community spaces
  • provides freedom to people of all ages to go places, particularly in later life

(Source: www.sustrans.org.uk/what-you-can-do/use-your-car-less/why-use-public-transport)

Schemes like BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment, Communities Home Quality Mark and other schemes within the BREEAM family, guide the way towards more sustainable communities with good transport links by encouraging planners and designers to consider this early on in the design process and our certifications recognise robust standards relating to sustainable transport.

The BREEAM Family of schemes assess the sustainability and quality of homes in the planning, construction and refurbishment stage. The impacts of transport forms a key part of these. More information about these schemes are shown below.

BREEAM Communities

BREEAM Communities is a scheme which measures and improves the sustainability of large-scale development sites and provides a framework to support the planning process. The scheme recognises and rewards projects which incorporate sustainable travel options at an early stage.

The Home Quality Mark

The Home Quality Mark (HQM) is an independent mark that shows the expected costs, health and wellbeing benefits and environmental footprint of a new home. HQM recognises steps developers take to provide home occupants alternatives to using the car. HQM looks at the score the following:

  • How close the home is to transport nodes such as bus stops or train stations, how many of them there are and how frequent the service is
  • Whether the service has been improved as part of the development being constructed
  • Cycle storage and cycle networks
  • Electric vehicle charging points
  • Car clubs
  • Having amenities such as a post office, doctors’ surgery and schools within walking distance.

BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment

BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment assesses both the sustainability of the refurbishment process of a home and the performance of the home once it has been refurbished. This scheme recognises the provision of cycle storage to encourage people to cycle as an alternative to driving, and the ability to use a spare room as a home office to reduce the need to commute every day.

By using any of these three schemes, you will be helping reduce people’s reliance on using the car, help reduce CO2 emissions and improve the local air quality.

Finally, if a home is assessed and certified under the Home Quality Mark, it will have information for the consumer to look at regarding the environmental footprint, expected costs and health and wellbeing benefits which will help them make an informed decision when buying or renting a home.

Using one or more of these BREEAM Schemes for homes, you will not only improve the health and wellbeing of the occupants and the wider environment, you will help buyers and renters make a more informed choice when choosing a home.

For more information please visit:

Tim Wiseman
About the Author
Tim Wiseman has experience in energy efficiency and sustainability in social and private housing as well as planning, Working at BRE as Scheme Manager of BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment. All views are my own

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