Delta Commissioner Peter Glas: Yardstick provides good direction for climate-resilient construction

The Cabinet today presented the yardstick that will be used as a basis by government authorities and developers for working on climate-resilient residential areas, infrastructure and business parks. The ‘Yardstick for a climate-adaptive green built environment’ (in Dutch) includes guidelines, targets and performance requirements intended to ensure that buildings and their localities can cope better with floods, excess water, water shortages, heat, biodiversity and land subsidence.

Read the frequently asked questions about the Yardstick here

Delta Commissioner Peter Glas applauds the introduction of the national yardstick. “We are facing enormous challenges in the spatial domain, such as the construction of large numbers of homes. At the same time, we must make our country, much of which is susceptible to flooding, more resilient to climate change. Sea levels are rising and we are seeing more frequent extremes of dry and wet weather. The homes we build now will still be there in 50 to 100 years, and the roads and public facilities will be there even longer. That is why it is so important to take climate change into consideration every time a spade goes into the ground, and that includes the long term. The Cabinet’s yardstick will certainly help in that respect.”

Clear guidelines are needed for municipal authorities, regions and builders

In 2021, the Delta Commissioner pointed out in an advisory report sent to the Cabinet that an estimated 820,000 new homes are planned in flood-prone areas, areas with soft soil, or wetlands. These locations are susceptible to flooding, problems with excess water, land subsidence, drought and heat. He argued in favour of clear guidelines to support all stakeholders. Glas: “I am calling on initiators, investors, housing associations, builders and governments to get it right the first time so that we don’t put later generations into an impossible position and leave them to clear up the damage. Every euro you put in now will be saved many times over. Water also provides us with many wonderful things. We can use it to make residential areas more appealing, with more greenery and water features in those areas, more leisure opportunities and more nature.”

The yardstick of Ministers De Jonge (Housing and Spatial Planning), Harbers (Infrastructure and Water Management) and Van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen) provides a national, standardised, frame of reference, describes targets and performance requirements for new buildings, and guidelines for the themes of excess water, water shortages, heat, biodiversity, land subsidence and flood-impact mitigation. The assessment of exactly how the yardstick will be implemented in a construction project takes place on a site-by-site basis. In this way, the government wants to ensure that there are openings for innovative and smart solutions at the local level. The Yardstick for climate-adaptive green built environment is not yet required by law. The national government will start exploring options for its inclusion in law in the spring.