Last Wednesday marked a milestone; Enfield Council Cabinet approved the environmental sustainability strategy for Meridian Water to be carbon positive, environment positive and zero waste. The ambition is set. Actually delivering that level of sustainability aspiration – making sure nothing gets value engineered out – is the next challenge.

To support meeting these ambitions, Enfield Council is partnering with UKGBC and EIT Climate KIC as part of Foreground, a programme that brings together a wide array of businesses, policy-makers, not-for-profits and academic institutes, to examine how to turn these ambitions into reality.

The Meridian Water Doughnut

The sustainability strategy for Meridian Water is based on Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics. The doughnut illustrates that the creation of a thriving and innovative economy at Meridian Water should be harnessed in order to build a successful social foundation for the local community whilst not infringing on our planetary boundaries. It is also a useful tool for the delivery team – any idea that doesn’t fit within the doughnut will not work for this project.

The other important constraints are financial. Enfield Council must maintain diligent financial responsibility throughout the project.

Focus on implementation

So we’ve set the environmental, social and financial parameters – now we need to carry this through into implementation. Doing things the way that they’ve always been done isn’t going to produce new results. That’s why, as part of the Foreground programme we will be asking ourselves how we can innovate in areas such as procurement, design, technology and digital systems, community involvement, development models and investment options.

With quite a few of these there is no need to “re-invent the wheel”. We welcome opportunities to learn from existing initiatives. Yet if it appears there is something essential that doesn’t exist, we are also happy to start from the beginning.

Working together

Although there is no silver bullet, there is silver dust spread everywhere. We just need a way of pulling it all together. No single person or single organisation has all the answers – bringing people together and finding new ways to collaborate is essential.

Through the Foreground programme we have assembled a wide range of stakeholders from all corners of our industry. Academia, tech, developers, investors, contractors, suppliers, designers, advisors, engineers, utilities, operators. Global and local. Big and small. Each have their own part of the solution to contribute, and the purpose is identifying how best to bring each piece of the solution puzzle together.

Seeing the forest for the trees

In our fragmented, siloed industry we each understand our own perspective and can be quick to point out failings elsewhere. What is really difficult is taking the time to understanding the perspective of others. This opportunity is to take a step back collectively, to understanding how the whole ecosystem can improve.

Foreground can help us see beyond the specific practicalities of this project and connect to wider efforts to “see the forest for the trees”. The intention is that pieces of the Meridian Water ‘solution puzzle’ are very replicable. It’s a typical regeneration site based outside the city centre, with very common problems. That is why, at the end of this programme, UKGBC is planning to produce a ‘playbook’ designed to support leadership on large-scale development or regeneration schemes across the country. This is likely to be particularly useful for knowledge-sharing across local authority and the public sector but should also be widely applicable to private sector clients across the UK and beyond.