Grosvenor Property UK’s Biodiversity Framework presents an innovative strategy for the delivery of improved biodiversity-linked environmental performance across the business’ standing portfolio as well as through future development. The Framework is structured around 4 universal principles, applicable to all parts of the business:
- Biodiversity Net Gain. Biodiversity net gains which exceed minimum best practice levels will be delivered through habitat enhancement, asset management intervention and new development based upon a 2021 baselining exercise. This gain will be delivered through an increase in the quantity and quality of biodiverse habitats which benefit priority faunal species.
- Functional Ecosystems. Grosvenor will respond to the biodiversity crisis and climate emergency through delivering multifunctional green infrastructure that functions for people and nature, delivering measurably improved ecosystem service delivery.
- Reconnection with Nature. Grosvenor will aim to strengthen people’s affinity with nature. Engagement and learning opportunities will be identified. New development will integrate nature within the built form and bring wildlife into the community.
- Maximising Benefit. Investment in greening in locations identified as being strategically important and best reflecting all three principles, with a focus on features that fit the connectivity mapping, identifiable ecosystem service requirement and best community engagement opportunities. This will ensure Grosvenor delivers the greatest impact in the short to long term through informed and evidence-based investment decisions. This is a thread that runs universally through the other three principles.
A baseline assessment of existing biodiversity unit value across all GPUK UK assets was undertaken. This informed the extent to which a challenging percentage improvement target could be set, based on a suite of suggested interventions. The principles are then to be followed through business area specific guidance, and with specific targets, split between:
- The management of, and new development in, Mayfair and Belgravia, targeting a 20% biodiversity net gain across the estate and 75% – 100% net gain on development sites
- Strategic Land master development, targeting a 15% biodiversity net gain
- Investments, with a bespoke target developed per asset
- Liverpool ONE – management, targeting a 35% biodiversity net gain
For management of existing assets, the Framework links potential intervention and calculated improvement to the existing Greener Grosvenor strategy and prescribes key options for habitat and ecosystem service improvement throughout Mayfair and Belgravia. The delivery of such improvements would stand to deliver tangible benefits not just for Grosvenor but this densely populated and trafficked part of central London. Priority locations for intervention have been identified through habitat connectivity modelling. This has identified existing connectivity and green corridors based on contours around differing green infrastructure typologies and allowed for areas of opportunity where connectivity is currently lacking to be mapped. This informs where a greening intervention would either stand to bolster an existing strategic green corridor or create a new one.
Procedures for capturing projects have been embedded within Grosvenor’s management approach to ensure that change can be simply measured year on year. For new development within London and strategic land development projects, KPIs are linked to biodiversity net gain and urban greening factor standards. Guidance on how such standards can be met and minimum scores exceeded is provided in a ‘biodiversity buffet’ document, a kit of parts for best practice green infrastructure design, including guidance on what should be done, when and by whom throughout the planning timeline. The intention is that gains delivered through asset management and new development each year can be captured, assessed against targets and shared within annual ESG reporting.
The benefit of the multi principle approach is that it links the biodiversity gains to broader ecosystem service delivery (e.g. health, wellbeing and engagement with nature, reduction in surface flood risk and, air quality improvement), ensuring that interventions are not purely chosen because they hit quantitative targets, but are chosen to deliver the most meaningful improvement in overall environmental performance.
The Framework was produced throughout 2021 remotely through close and extensive cooperation between Grosvenor and Greengage. It represents a progressive approach to capturing and improving biodiversity performance, acknowledging how the biodiversity and climate crises are intrinsically linked. Outcomes are therefore tangible in the sense of improving biodiversity in a measurable way, but also benefitting overall environmental performance.
Very few property companies report on biodiversity in this manner, but this Framework sets a paradigm which can be followed in the future to the benefit of emerging drivers including Taskforce for Nature related Financial Disclosures linked reporting; it is repeatable, evidence based and clear to understand, apply and measure.
In 2019 Grosvenor’s UK Property business committed to Valuing Nature as one of our 4 green goals. Last year we worked with Greengage to fully define this commitment, and make it actionable, by creating our biodiversity framework and strategy. To deliver against the goal, we established four key guiding principles, undertook a baseline appraisal of existing biodiversity value in across our assets, created a set of realistic but challenging targets, and planned for ongoing measurement to track improvement.
“We recognise that biodiversity net gain is a relatively new concept that is becoming more mainstream in the construction and property sector. The innovative strategy to deliver biodiversity net gain that Greengage helped us to create will enable us to influence how the sector considers biodiversity, while allowing us to adapt to future changes in measurement and regulation. The work with Greengage translated our vision into targets and action plans that are meaningful and deliverable for each of our business areas, enabling us to turn our vision into reality.”