Neighbourhoods often appear complex. It is difficult to ascertain how they can be assessed in terms of sustainability performance and to identify what needs to be done to improve them.
Green precinct and urban assessment tools offer some insight but provide a partial view as they tend to focus on environmental issues and do not take into social and economic issues. Tools can also be complex, discouraging the involvement of non-professionals. Practical guidance on how plans and strategies can be developed to improve the sustainability of neighbourhoods is also limited.
The Built Environment Sustainability Tool (BEST) 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 and associated methodology provides a practical way of developing more sustainable neighbourhoods by addressing 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 optimum solutions and interventions to address gaps and rapidly improve sustainability performance?
- Can sustainability plans and strategies be developed to ensure that sustainability is improved in a collaborative, structured, efficient and effective way that benefits everyone?
A new version of the BEST is available and a number of research projects based on this update are in development.