Ecosystem Services in Rating Systems : evaluating rating systems for sustainable design through case studies of ecosystem services in residential yards

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management (from 130101)

Abstract: In a world where climate change is a fact, there is an imminent need for a more sustainable development. Design that includes ecosystem services is an important part of creating more sustainable cities. However, in most development projects the short-term economic interest gets to determine how the development is executed. Therefore there is a need to put a numerical value on the green environment in order to ensure that ecosystem services are included in the planning. Rating systems intended to provide sustainable outdoor environments is one way to do this. However, there is a need to examine the rating systems in order to ensure that they provide a good measurement of ecosystem services. This thesis examines the rating of ecosystem services in three rating systems, through the research question; What differences are there in the way that CEEQUAL, Sustainable Sites Initiative and Biotope Area Factor (as used in Årstafältet, Stockholm) rate ecosystem services, and which of the three systems can be expected to lead to the most sustainable outdoor design? In the first part of the thesis five ecosystem services are chosen to be used in the research; (1) food production, (2) aesthetic value, (3) habitat for animals, (4) air filtering in vegetation, and (5) stormwater management. In the second part of the thesis the three rating systems CEEQUAL, SITES and BAF are examined to see where and how they rate the five ecosystem services. These parts of the rating systems are then applied on six case studies located in Malmö, Sweden. The results show that all three rating systems are able to detect the difference between projects that include ecosystem services and the projects that doesn’t. However, the rating systems have very different ways to do this. Biotope Area Factor will enhance the inclusion of vegetation and permeable materials and is easy to use. However, BAF has no method for reinforcing the requirements. CEEQUAL is focused on the construction and the material of a site. While CEEQUAL provides a good measurement of sustainability, it is not focused specifically on creating ecosystem services. SITES has its main focus on creating ecosystem services, and is focused on landscape architecture projects. While it is a new system that has not undergone enough research, it shows great potential to be used to ensure the sustainability of an outdoor design.

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