Building with Nature

A new benchmark for the design and maintenance of green infrastructure in housing and commercial development.

Building with Nature has been designed to support the creation of high quality green infrastructure throughout the planning and development process. Green infrastructure includes parks, play areas, nature reserves and street trees, as well as rivers, ponds and other water features.

Building with Nature secures space for wildlife and recreation. However, it also helps you to deliver green infrastructure which is better for water management, public safety, and the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Green infrastructure is as important as buildings, roads and power supplies in providing the essential ingredients that go into making places work effectively.
Building with Nature defines what good green infrastructure is. We have drawn on the good work that already exists and brought it together under one umbrella. 

How does it work?

Building with Nature provides an assessment and accreditation service. There are different levels of support available to suit your needs.

A set of core standards are our starting point. These define the basic approach to green infrastructure. They include alignment with the local policy context and a commitment to long-term maintenance.

Next, there are three key themes: wellbeing, water and wildlife.

Wellbeing Standards

Require delivery of health and wellbeing benefits through the green and blue features on the site, making sure they can be easily accessed by people close to where they live and work.

Water Standards

Secure a commitment to improving water quality, on site and in the wider area; reducing the risk of flooding; and managing water naturally for maximum benefit.

Wildlife Standards

Aim to protect and enhance wildlife, creating networks where nature can thrive, and supporting the creation of places which more effectively deliver a net gain for wildlife.

As an applicant for Building with Nature accreditation, there are three possible outcomes: Candidate status, Achieved and Excellent.

It’s possible to apply for an award at any stage in the development process. For phased developments, the award can be granted for each phase as it’s completed. It is also possible to apply for certification of a scheme which has already been built out, or for a policy document which has already been adopted.

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Candidate Status

Candidate status recognises that a development or document has met the Building with Nature standards, subject to sign off post-construction/post-publication.

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Building with Nature Achieved recognises that your development or document has met all of the core standards and nine standards across the three themes.

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Building with Nature Excellent recognises that your development or document has met all achieve standards plus six out of nine additional standards across the three themes.


The Standards

Building with Nature standards are publicly available to be used by designers and planners to inform development from the outset. Community groups can also use the standards to better understand what is meant by high quality green infrastructure, and reflect on how well it has been integrated into local policy or a particular development.

There are 23 Building with Nature standards in total. This includes five core standards, six wellbeing standards, six water standards and six wildlife standards.

The User Guide explains the standards in full and provides support on how to meet them. This summary provides an overview of the principles underpinning each standard:



There are five core standards to define a green infrastructure approach to planning and development. They distinguish green infrastructure from a more conventional approach to the design and delivery of open space and green space.

  1. Green infrastructure forms a multifunctional network, operating at a landscape scale.

  2. Green infrastructure reflects and enhances the character of the local environment.

  3. The type, quality and function of green infrastructure responds to the local policy context.

  4. Green infrastructure is resilient to climate change and enhances environmental quality.

  5. Provision is made for long-term management and maintenance of green infrastructure.



There are six wellbeing standards to secure health and wellbeing outcomes through the delivery of green infrastructure features through planning and development.

  1. Green infrastructure is accessible for all and is situated close to where people live.

  2. All people are encouraged to use and enjoy green infrastructure.

  3. Green infrastructure is designed to be accessible at all times of year.

  4. Green infrastructure supports the reduction and/or prevention of health inequalities.

  5. Green infrastructure promotes socially sustainable communities and community cohesion.

  6. Green infrastructure is integral to the distinctiveness of place



There are six water standards to manage water quantity and quality, and maximise opportunities for biodiversity and amenity. 

  1. Green infrastructure is integral to sustainable drainage to manage water quantity.

  2. Green infrastructure is used to improve water quality within the scheme.

  3. Green infrastructure is integral to sustainable drainage to create better places for people and nature.

  4. Green infrastructure is integral to water management to demonstrate innovation beyond the statutory minimum.

  5. Green infrastructure allows more and better treatment stages to maximise water quality.

  6. Water features are used to enhance the overall design.



There are six wildlife standards to create places where nature can flourish, both within the boundary of the scheme, and at a landscape scale.

  1. Green infrastructure positively contributes to biodiversity targets and landscape-scale conservation priorities.

  2. Green infrastructure creates linkages between habitats within the boundary of the scheme.

  3. Green infrastructure positively contributes to the target conservation status of key species.

  4. Green infrastructure includes features around and within the built environment.

  5. Green infrastructure plays a role in restoring and sustaining wider ecological networks.

  6. Green infrastructure secures biodiversity measures in all stages of implementation, and across multiple phases of development.

User Guide

The user guide explains in more detail how the  benchmark works. It explains the aim of the standards and describes how to meet them.

It can be used to assist with the preparation of your application for Building with Nature accreditation.

It can equally be used as a self-assessment tool by those responsible for the design, implementation and maintenance of high quality green infrastructure.

  User Guide PDF

User Guide PDF

  User Guide for Policy Makers PDF

User Guide for Policy Makers PDF


Case Studies

  Case Studies PDF

Case Studies PDF

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Find out more

If you are interested in Building with Nature accreditation for your development or  policy, or have any questions about the benchmark award, please get in touch with the Building with Nature Manager:


Alternatively, please complete the form below:

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