Environmental Sustainability Report: a tool to promote interdisciplinary design
Environmental Sustainability Report: a tool to promote interdisciplinary design
The new building regulations of the Municipality of Brescia read (and explained) by our technicians.
In June 2022, the new Brescia building regulations came into force. They are part of a broader strategy undertaken by the municipal administration (which includes the updating of all regulatory and planning instruments) to achieve the challenging climate transition targets within thirty years. Through the redevelopment of the built-up area, we move towards the realisation of an “oasis”, “sponge” and “for people” city, in more detail:
• With oasis cities, policies are undertaken to mitigate heat islands (inserting tree rows, new plant species to increase urban biodiversity, light-coloured pavements)
• With sponge cities, attention is paid to frequent cloudbursts (through road de-paving, rain-gardens and filter trenches, leaking wells, drainage paving)
• City for people is the city on a human scale (with traffic calming measures to reduce vehicle transit speed, improvement of the urban microclimate, incentivisation of sustainable mobility).
Among the novelties, as a multidisciplinary design company, we highlight the attention dedicated to the Environmental Sustainability Report, which is be understood not so much as a check list made a posteriori – through which to verify the correctness of a project and its compliance with the standards – but rather as a valuable preparatory tool for the design, to assess ex ante all the relevant environmental factors and the impact that the building can generate on them, in order to aim not only at a zero-impact building but, hopefully, at a building that can improve the environment in which it will be inserted.
Participation and consensus.
The drafting process for the new Brescia Building Regulations involved all the members of “Campus Edilizia” (ANCE Brescia – Brescia national builders’ association, Cassa Edile Brescia – Brescia construction industry board, Ente sistema edilizia Brescia – Brescia construction training and consultancy body, Ordine degli Ingegneri – order of engineers, Ordine degli Architetti – order of architects, Collegio Geometri – board of surveyors, Municipality of Brescia, University of Brescia, Confindustria Brescia – Brescia association of industries, A2A, Redo Sgr and Province of Brescia), as well as the Bar Association, the Building Commission and the Municipal Landscape Commission. The final text, therefore, was the result of transparency and participation, as well as the contribution of specific expertise on the subject.
The new regulation was prepared to comply with the uniform general structure and the contents laid out in the Lombardy Region’s outline of the Standard Building Regulations, aimed at collecting and standardising the provisions of the Brescia Local Hygiene Regulations, and to provide coordinated hypertext links with other regulatory acts, both municipal and of other bodies, which are accessible on-line.
Environmental sustainability at the centre.
Innovative elements, under the scrutiny of our design company operating in the area, include the abolition of the Building Commission, the definition of the deadlines for the expression of internal advisory bodies, the limitation of the occupation of public land within a large part of the historic centre (the DUC – Single District for Commerce) to also safeguard the interests of business operators, and the introduction of simplified rules for contingent and temporary works, adhering to the provisions on free building already promulgated at the national level.
The relevant issue, as mentioned, is environmental sustainability, particularly for new construction or building replacement. In fact, great attention was given to aspects such as the recovery and optimisation of water resources, the use of materials and technologies to prevent heat islands, the updating of local regulations on soil remediation, the recharging of electric vehicles and the regulated provision of bicycle spaces. A specific chapter is dedicated to regulating the construction of external thermal insulation on public land, as well as a series of provisions regulating design and executive measures in order to implement the environmental sustainability of interventions.
In particular, indicators for carbon dioxide equivalent reduction and climate impact reduction (RIC – riduzione impatto climatico) taken as a reference are those already introduced in the building regulations of the Municipality of Milan, with which the activation of a table for comparison, verification and monitoring is also envisaged. Climate impact reduction (RIC) is understood as the ratio of green areas to the total area of the intervention, and the achievement of different objectives is prescribed depending on the interventions, whether they are restoration, conservative restoration and building renovation that affect the external surfaces of buildings (including roofs, terraces, floors, facades, courtyards), or building renovation with total demolition and reconstruction and new construction, as well as for all interventions that affect open spaces.
Environmental Sustainability Report.
At the documental level, for all new construction and replacement works on buildings of all destinations – with the exception of those used for industrial and artisanal activities and similar (except for specific provisions) – as mentioned, the Environmental Sustainability Report was introduced, a technical descriptive document that must constitute the outline of all aspects and solutions dedicated to environmental protection and sustainable development, in compliance with the requirements of the new Article 31, concerning precisely the environmental sustainability of interventions.
The Environmental Sustainability Report is in fact a new way of approaching design, through which the stereotype that sees the supremacy of architectural form over structural and plant engineering disciplines is overturned. This is in perfect harmony with our DNA, considering that DVArea was established also with the assumption of uniting, under a single umbrella, the satellites representing the different disciplines and skills required to achieve an integrated design, in a holistic vision (of architecture) where all the skills required for a complete and sustainable project are considered on the same level.
Returning to the new regulation, with a subsequent and specific variant to the Government Territorial Zoning Plan (TMP), incentive measures will be introduced for interventions that will achieve better results, in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent reduction and climate impact reduction (RIC), than those already envisaged in the regulation, and/or increase the installation of green roofs and/or walls with the objective of:
• Reducing surface temperature and associated convective motion with dust recirculation;
• Reducing the rate of rainwater runoff to the ground;
• Improving indoor environmental comfort with insulation and sound-proofing;
• Reducing the heat island.
With the task of supporting the municipal administration in the updating, interpretation and application of the building regulations, proposing innovative organisational solutions, highlighting problems encountered in the application of regulations, urban planning and building procedures, and making proposals for amendments and additions, the City Building Observatory was also set up, whose members and functioning will be determined by a specific resolution of the City Council. With respect to the now obsolete Local Hygiene Regulations, some changes have been made, such as, for example, that windowless bathrooms (albeit with forced aspiration) in residential buildings may only be built in the presence of other windowed bathrooms, as well as allowing the use of zenithal lighting, by means of flush skylights, to meet the air-lighting ratios, at most for the part which represents 30 % of the required windowed area.