Arcadis: Zero Emissions City Standard in Birmingham

Arcadis’ Sustainability Team has led engagement with the City of Birmingham on a new Zero Emissions City Standard for the city. Working with WBCSD and other partner organizations, Arcadis has developed a sustainability framework for Birmingham to deliver on its sustainability aspirations and is helping the city attain its sustainability goals.

Arcadis introduced natural capital as a key sustainability element - one of ten - ensuring that the natural capital aspirations were embedded and connected throughout.  Principles included water, transport, culture, health and wellbeing.  In addition to matching potential design interventions to existing and future policies, we undertook a high-level cost-benefit-analysis of natural infrastructure, using a natural capital accounting approach to ensure that the sustainability aspirations were financially viable.

Natural Capital Protocol used
  • Yes
Impact drivers assessed
  • GHG emissions e.g. volume of CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs etc.
  • Impact on biodiversity e.g. impact on species, ecosystems, habitats or genetic diversity
  • Non-GHG air pollutants e.g. PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, NO, NO2, SO2, CO, etc.
  • Water pollutants e.g. volume discharged to receiving water body
  • Water use e.g. volume of ground- or surface water consumed
Organizational Focus
  • Corporate
  • Project
Valuation Type
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Monetary
  • Value to business
  • Value to society
Geographical Scope
  • United Kingdom
Dependencies assessed
  • Biodiversity
  • Energy e.g. solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biofuel, fossil fuel
  • Experience e.g. nature-based recreation, tourism
  • Regulation of biological environment e.g. pollination, crop pest control
  • Regulation of physical environment e.g. flood attenuation, water quality regulation
  • Regulation of waste and emissions e.g. waste assimilation, noise and dust regulation
  • Well-being and spiritual/ethical values e.g. employee satisfaction and stress release, sacred sites and indigenous traditions
Value Chain Boundary
  • Upstream
  • Downstream
  • Engineering

Key findings

Birmingham aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 2027 while growing by 100,000 people in the same period. Arcadis’ work feeds into those ambitions and helps model future sustainable development in the city.

These aspirational interventions demonstrate that developments which consider natural capital are financially viable, and provide a framework for projects that includes both natural capital and financial aspects.

This analysis highlights where additional investment is needed to deliver sustainable outcomes and presents the pay back periods and business case for this. The Birmingham City Council has highlighted this work as a real differentiator, supporting it in identifying how best to embed sustainability and as a good example of how to provide a robust business case for going beyond compliance.