New standard from BSI brings people together to better manage the social, economic and environmental impacts of community life

Press release - 17th January 2012

A new standard from the British Standards Institution (BSI) has been launched to improve the ‘quality of life’ for local communities.

BS 8904 - Guidance for community sustainable development – will provide a step-by-step process to help embed sustainable development in everyday community life.

Based on the BS 8900 series of sustainable development standards, BS 8904 is intended as high-level guidance to improve the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of sustainable development activities within a community, through the engagement, identification, prioritisation and implementation processes.

It is hoped that fruits of sustainable activities executed in accordance with BS 8904 will include: reduced environmental impacts, improved social relations (such as better social cohesion and inclusivity) as well as a more robust economic resilience which mitigates risks – particularly those related to food, shelter and health.

Beneficiaries of the new standard are likely to include local governments, community groups, national and regional community support, social and environmental charities and other NGOs, sports associations, planners and architects, community health and education professionals.

A number of influential parties have been involved in the development of this product including representatives from government (Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), local councils); community-building organisations; consumer representatives; planners; the NHS; education providers and academic experts in sustainable development for communities.

Professor David Jackman, Chairman for the Sustainable Communities Committee commented: “Recognising that progress can be made through other channels beyond the business entity is a radical departure for BSI. Communities are increasingly leading the drive for sustainable development and this pioneering standard provides a framework for generating new initiatives, building support and getting the most from an action plan. It is about building community spirit and involvement, not top-down planning, although local government may find the overall approach very useful.”

“This is the first standard of its kind,” said John Devaney, Committee Manager at BSI. ”BSI’s decision to develop BS 8904 demonstrates our leadership position and ability to enable wider engagement both in the UK and internationally. The new standard will allow communities to respond effectively to the pressure to improve sustainability coming from both individuals within the community, and from international consensus and national government.”

"The launch of BS 8904 will be a valuable contribution to the professional toolkit in the year of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - the Rio+20 Earth Summit - which will debate the core theme of “Greening the local economy”. It is expected that the pressure to improve community sustainability will only increase as climate change targets are implemented."