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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work 2020

On 27th February, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) published the new RIBA Plan of Work 2020 – the definitive guide when designing and constructing buildings. Its first revamp since 2013.

For the first time, the 2020 version includes a Sustainability Project Strategy, reflecting the Government’s ambitious net zero by 2050 targets and RIBAs declaration last year of the climate and ecological emergency we all face.

The Sustainability Project Strategy identifies specific tasks at each of the 8 stages, including the appointment of a Project Sustainability Champion. This role should provide a useful point of contact too for specialist interest and community groups. It provides a focus for measuring sustainable outcomes, such as energy costs, that trees can help reduce, post occupation and added value of occupant health and wellbeing.

Accompanying the Plan of Work and Sustainability Strategy is the RIBA Sustainable Outcomes Guide complements Sustainability Strategy.

RIBA 2020 BlogUnder the heading of Sustainable Land Use and Ecology, are:

  • Principle 5 ‘Retain existing natural features’
  • Principle 7 ‘Create a range of green spaces (green roofs, pocket parks and green corridors)’
  • Principle 8 ‘create habitats that enhance biodiversity’

Under the heading of Good health and wellbeing, are:

  • Principle 8 ‘provide indoor and outdoor planted spaces’

Under the heading of Good health and wellbeing, are:

  • Principle 6 ’Create SUDS that support natural habitats’


In line with the National Planning Framework, 3D Modelling, visualisations and the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) are given higher priority and bought forward to stage 2 ‘Concept Design’. Treework Environmental Practice are at the forefront of the emergence of 3D modelling in our sector and excited about introducing modelling at an earlier stage to assist the design team.

The earlier our engagement, the more successful the outcome, reducing the risks by ensuring that unexpected issues are not encountered during later stages, potentially leading to abortive work and additional costs.

“As chartered arbroriculturists, our code of conduct requires us to have regard for sustainability in everything we do. We have a duty to deliver high-quality, safe and sustainable developments, the protection of trees and mitigation for those lost, helps our clients achieve these aims with the RIBA Plan of Work providing our guide.”

Matt Searle, Principal Arboricultural Consultant at Treework Environmental Practice and Chartered Arboriculturist and Town Planner.

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