Monday 19 October 2020

What Strategies Can Be Used to Improve Neighbourhoods?

The Built Environment Sustainability Tool enables the development of sophisticated and responsive plans and strategies to support improved local sustainability. These plans respond to and address gaps and aspects of current poor performance in the neighbourhood while supporting and improving aspects of good performance.

A wide range of options should be evaluated before a final selection of options for implementation is made. The tool should also be used to inform the mix, and sequencing, of interventions. Finally, detailed implementation plans and strategies should be designed and tested back against criteria in the tool to ensure that maximum impact is achieved.

The questions below, in conjunction with BEST, can be used to inform detailed implementation plans and strategies aimed at supporting sustainability.

New infrastructure

  • Is new infrastructure required?
  • Can existing infrastructure be used or adapted?
  • Can management and operation agreements be developed to support multifunction use of and shared access of existing facilities? 

Clustering and partnerships

  • Can clustering and shared use of infrastructure be used to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs?
  • Can partnerships be developed with neighbouring landowners and communities to increase the scale of interventions to support shared benefit and improved cost-effectiveness?

Linkages and synergies

  • How can systems be linked to reduce wastage and improve efficiency?  
  • Are there synergies that can be developed for mutual benefit?

Location and land use

  • Which location(s) for interventions can be used to support symbiotic relationships between functions and land uses?
  • Which location(s) for interventions draw on, and work with, natural and artificial features of the existing site to improve efficiencies and reduce operational costs?


  • Which procurement processes are most suitable for creating local jobs and supporting local small businesses?
  • Which procurement processes can be used to reduce risk and improve local self-reliance concerning funding and long-term financial sustainability?


  • Which construction processes are most suitable for creating local jobs and support local small businesses?
  • Which construction products and materials are most suitable for creating local jobs and support local small businesses?

Operational management

  • Which operational management models ensure affordable local access and use of infrastructure for community benefit?
  • Which operational management models include governance mechanisms which ensure that infrastructure is responsive to local needs and opportunities?

These questions can be used to develop detailed designs, specifications, plans and implementation methods that ensure that the resulting interventions not only support local sustainability but also ensure that implementation processes are also used to support sustainability. The Built Environment Sustainability Tool can be accessed here.

How Do You Develop More Sustainable Neighbourhoods?

Aerial view Alexandra

 Neighbourhoods appear to be complex and difficult to assess in terms of sustainability performance. A review of green precinct assessment tools for urban areas revealed that these tend to focus on environmental issues and did not take into social and economic issues. Many of the tools are also complex and do not encourage the involvement of communities and non-professionals. Also, many tools and rating systems are prescriptive and do not encourage or support the exploration of innovative solutions that respond to local opportunities and challenges.

The Built Environment Sustainability Tool addresses these issues by being based on a sustainability approach which includes social and economic aspects as well as environmental impacts. The tool aims to be simple to use and to encourage the active participation of all role players including local communities in assessing local sustainability performance and developing plans to improve this. It encourages a range of solutions to be explored and tested to support responsive solutions that work with local opportunities and challenges.  

The BEST methodology provides practical ways of developing more sustainable neighbourhoods that enable you to address the following questions:

  • What is sustainability?
  • What are the implications of sustainability for urban areas and settlements?
  • Do existing and proposed urban areas and settlements have the appropriate configuration and characteristics for sustainability?
  • Can this configuration and characteristics be assessed?
  • Can these assessments inform the development of interventions and solutions to improve sustainability performance? 
  • Are there ways of identifying the most optimum solutions and interventions to address gaps and rapidly improving sustainability performance?
  • Can sustainability plans and strategies be developed to ensure that sustainability targets are achieved in a structured, efficient and effective way?

The BEST can be accessed here.

Updated Built Environment Sustainability Tool

The Built Environment Sustainability Tool (BEST) supports an integrated and responsive approach to achieving sustainable neighbourhoods. The tool is based on a holistic approach to addressing sustainability and includes the following social, economic and environmental criteria. 

  • Shelter
  • Mobility
  • Food
  • Goods
  • Services
  • Waste
  • Biocapacity
  • Health
  • Education
  • Employment

Each criteria is introduced and simple protocols provided for the measurement and recording of performance the BEST manual. Detail is also provided on how to interpret results and use this to develop high-performance synergistic interventions that can be used to improve the sustainability of the neighbourhood.

The BEST course shows you how you can use the BEST to assess neighbourhoods and propose and test interventions to improve their sustainability performance. It guides users on how to follow a standardised methodology and protocols in order to carry out accurate assessments.

Access the BEST, manual and course here