David Green has over fifteen years experience in environmental planing and design.
The most important precursor to work in this field is that the client has established their environmemtal strategy and understands their environmental goals in terms of product, client
and image. Environmental planning and design is then the next logical
step in the environental management process which will achieve the
strategic enironmental objectives.
Environmental planning will best achieve the objectives where environment receives full recognition and integration in
a multi disciplinary planning team. But there are often barriers
to the complete integration of environmental issues into the business
process. This may be due to green protectionism created by the
environmental management staff, leading to a green wall between
environment and the main business. More commonly, senior
management may seek to reduce the influence of environmental
aspects on the main business process. Environment is seen as a
necessary evil and can then only be bolted on to the
business, thus minimising interference with the main economic and
social functions. But these artifical barriers should not be
allowed to develop or must be broken down if environmental planning is
to achieve the strategic environmental objectives and if environmental
management and planning is to garner added business value . If integration cannot be achieved, all that may be achieved is environmental compliance.
Environmental planning will achieve best
results when it is the creative result of efforts from several
functional disciplines with a common purpose. Essentiallly the designs
should aim for environmental, economic and social sustainability.
Ideally this should be achieved with maximm benefits and
minimum deleterious effects in all three aspects. Such planning,
although initiated in response to drivers from manufacturing
industries, can have equal applicability in construction, energy, urban
development, power supply, transportation, agriculture or travel
It is usefull to consider several concepts to be harnessed in the creation of interdisciplinary design teams.
Early recognition of the validity of intrinsic
environmental aspects that will enhance the project or product for the
end user. This will also avoid having to bolt-on potentially more
expensive environmental fixes at a later stage.
Interdisciplinary teams should have equal emphasis in all disciplines which will assist in maintaining momentum and
with equal credit for results, loss of morale in any one subject area
can be avoided.
End user requirements should be the focus of the
planning and design, not just the environental aspects, because
the end user will also have economic and social considerations. All
three must be dovetailed together to optimise the environmental input
to business value.
Small projects build momentum and should be the
starting point for improvements in environmental performance. Pilot
projects undertaken in specific areas of the business and designed from
the "bottom-up" will have grater impact than "top-down" grand ideas or
hobby-horses from senior management. Ownership and stewardship of the
results and successes should remain with the interdisciplinary design
team or workforce. Management must priovide the recognition,
encouragement, resources and leadiership to support and publicise
the achievements. Cross fertilisation and the proliferation of new
ideas from other teams can then follow with mutual appreciation and
training. Continuing support and commitment is however required from
the upper management.
Measuring the successes (and failures) should be
relatively simple to carry out and report and easy to interpret. Whole
life cycle analysis has its place but may not be necessary in the early
stages (although desirable where a degree of accounting or academic
rigour is required). The measurements should be simple, comparative,
easily understandable and readily communicated. All business
stakeholders should be encouraged and trained to interpret the
measurements in terms of environmental performance; benefits as well as
reduced impacts. The measurements should be fed back into the
management process for review and optimisation of plans and
David Green has used the above concepts in environmental planning and design projects in construction, urban development, power supply and transportation
industries throughout Asia over the past fifteen years to further
the understanding of environmental planning in the business and local
government management process.