Industry  |  Publications  |  07.07.2011

Good Foundations: Towards a low carbon, high well-being built environment

This New Economic Foundation report explores how architects, engineers, planners and policymakers can ensure that new development projects work for people and the planet.

Good Foundations was commissioned by the Happold Trust to present a new vision of successful development; development that works for people and the planet. It was born out of an increasing concern among professionals across the built environment sector that the current system by which we plan, design, and develop our neighbourhoods is inadequate when it comes to those things in life that really matter.

As efforts to patch up the current financial system continue, and investment into development projects begins to regain momentum, this report argues that a return to business as usual is not an option. Instead, it prompts all of us, including professionals working within the built environment sector, to consider what and who development and renewal projects are really for. In the light of a growing evidence base on the social, environmental, and economic features of neighbourhoods that support their inhabitants to live a good life, this report calls into question the viability of a model that uses financial return on investment as the single and most informative predictor of development success.

Good Foundations argues that a radically different view of success is needed in relation to the way we plan, design, and develop the built environment if we are to translate the thinking that has emerged into a genuinely new way of doing things. It says that if we are ultimately concerned with building neighbourhoods that work for the people who live in them both now and in the future, then the promotion of well-being within environmental limits should be the overarching aim of development activity. To achieve this, it suggests a different, and more holistic, approach is taken which balances social, economic and environmental value with financial return.

Edited extract from the executive summary.

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