First ever web-based system to verify new buildings' compliance with climate change policy


C-Plan (Carbon Planner) allows local authorities and developers to assess and reduce the carbon impact of new developments.

The Energy Centre for Sustainable Communities (ECSC) has announced the launch of C-Plan - a revolutionary web-based software service which allows developers and local planning authorities to measure, monitor and report on the carbon impact of new developments. ECSC provides sustainable energy expertise to a wide range of public and private sector organisations.

As local planning authorities come under increasing pressure from the UK government to adopt sustainable energy targets, they are finding that assessing new developments for compliance requires a level of technical expertise they seldom have in-house. At the same time, developers are facing the impact of new and pending legislation - such as the Planning and Climate Change Supplement to PPS1, the EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive and the Housing & Regeneration Bill.

C-Plan has been designed in response to demand from local authority planners for a tool to meet these challenges. It provides developers with online templates to submit appropriate evidence of compliance with sustainable energy policy and uses a 'traffic light' system to indicate when a development starts to meet planning policy targets.

For local planning authorities, C-Plan allows development control officers to use simple graphical indicators to support their decision-making and provides policy officers with rich reporting tools to monitor the impact of policy across all developments on a regional or authority-wide basis.

The fact that the service is browser-based means it is extremely scalable and easy to roll-out across organisations and regions. C-Plan has been successfully trialled in Woking Borough Council, has just gone live in Three Rivers District Council and is now being rolled-out to other authorities.

ECSC brought together local authority planners during the development of C-Plan to work alongside its own in-house team to ensure the product meets their requirements. C-Plan’s database was built on a platform of sound academic building services research in collaboration with the Department of Engineering Systems at London South Bank University.

David Pitcher, Commercial Manager at ECSC, commented - “C-Plan is the first solution which links up planners, developers, consultants, administrators and policy officers in a single collaborative environment. We are confident that C-Plan will enable developers and planners to meet the challenges of responding to climate change and carbon reduction and we aim to make C-Plan the foremost tool for this purpose.

“Local authorities and developers will quickly discover that, as well as being extremely user-friendly, C-Plan is built on robust and academically-sourced data. Our long-term vision is that C-Plan will ultimately speed up the planning process and improve efficiency in delivering low and zero carbon development.”

Peter Kerr, Chief Development Plans and Transportation Officer at Three Rivers District Council, said - "Although we've only been using C-Plan for a short time, it has already become an important tool in allowing us to implement policies to tackle climate change. We were getting increasingly concerned about how to properly quantify and report on the carbon efficiency of new developments. C-Plan's innovative online platform now allows us to monitor this easily and efficiently - making the whole process seamless and much more targeted."

ECSC is owned by Thameswey - an energy and environmental services company which is part of Woking Borough Council.