Green Infrastructure Innovation Fund

Project details

Full project title: Green Infrastructure Innovation Fund (NE/N016971/1)

Duration: January 2016-January 2017

Funder: NERC

Project leader for SPE: Dr Danielle Sinnett

Other UWE Bristol researchers:

Research partners/collaborators:

  • Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
  • Town and Country Planning Association
  • Public Health England
  • Royal Town Planning Institute
  • Landscape Institute
  • Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors
  • Forest Research

Project summary

This research examined whether a market existed for a national benchmark for green infrastructure (GI). Building on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between SPE and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, which developed the Building with Nature benchmark for green infrastructure [link to this page: Knowledge transfer partnership - Projects | UWE Bristol], it sought to answer three main questions:

  • What is the demand for a GI benchmark in the built environment sector?
  • What types of GI and corresponding ecosystem services should the benchmark include?
  • What is the most appropriate model to ensure the long-term success of the benchmark?

This involved a desktop review of relevant assessment systems to examine

  • if, and how, GI is incorporated into such systems and
  • their overall operation to understand current practice within the built environment sector.

Additionally, five expert symposia were held to test the findings of the review and the initial benchmark development with experts from the built environment and GI professions.

The team were also commissioned to undertake two reviews for NERC on how GI research is translated into practice. The first focussed on grey literature for a UK audience and included two events where the GI community could share their thoughts, while the second examined international grey literature; both included case studies.

Key outputs

Key findings

The review of existing assessment systems suggested that whilst there were some audits and toolkits related to GI there was not a benchmark specifically dedicated to GI, and that existing systems did not adequately address the multifunctionality of GI or consider the development’s role as part of a network of GI.

Symposia participants generally supported the creation of a national benchmark for GI, viewing it as a way of improving GI provision.

The study concluded that a GI benchmark would be helpful in improving consistency in the planning, design and management of GI. The benchmark will need to offer clear benefits to applicants, not offered by current, neighbouring systems.

The two reviews of grey literature identified the evidence related to the benefits of GI to biodiversity, ecosystem services and where these have been monetised. They found that there is some evidence presented on the role of GI in enhancing biodiversity, with a greater focus on the role of GI in providing supporting and provisioning services. The greatest focus of grey literature was on evidence reporting the benefits of GI in improving air quality, regulating air and surface temperatures and for stormwater management, providing space for recreation, often reported in terms of mental and physical health outcomes.

Project contact

For more information about the project, please contact Dr Danielle Sinnett (

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