Last year I was very excited when CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association) launched their ‘BEST’ Benefits of SUDS Tool. The tool is available to download for free on the Ciria website here http://www.susdrain.org/resources/best.html and provides a database and instruction manual for anyone wanting to input their details of their own scheme to calculate the ‘triple bottom line’ value.
This tool not only looks at a basic cost benefit analysis, but goes beyond that to calculate the values of other social and environmental services. For example, improvements in crime rates and health benefits for local residents, and factors such as air quality improvement and biodiversity support, alongside the more obvious flood mitigation functions are evaluated.
There is a matrix which then relates the outcome values of different aspects of each SUDS scheme to various potential stakeholders, from planning authorities to funding bodies.
Case studies on the website give an idea of the breadth of different schemes that can be analysed, and there are many more resources including details of training courses. The importance of getting SUDS right in cities is becoming ever clearer as more and more communities experience severe flooding.
The disconnect between the costs of flood prevention and the cost of clearing up the devastation is a major barrier to the widespread development of sustainable building, and this tool is an important step in bridging that gap. I strongly recommend this to anyone trying to push for sustainable drainage and would be interested to hear from anyone who uses it.