Flood protection standard looks at risks to new buildings

10 May 2016

 BSI, the business standards company, has published BS 85500:2015 Flood resistant and resilient construction. Guide to improving the flood performance of buildings. The standard looks at the growing risk buildings face from flooding, and is based on the DCLG publication Improving the flood performance of new buildings: Flood resilient construction (2007). It brings the document up to date, focussing on the flood performance of buildings constructed using modern methods of construction (MMC). 

Following the widespread flooding of recent years, flood resistance and resilience concerns have continued to be of importance to both local and national Government. Although current policies do not advocate the building of dwellings in areas with a significant risk of flooding, the current lack of affordable housing in the UK could lead to an increased likelihood of development on low or residual flood risk areas. 

National flood risk management policy requires developments to be safe, to avoid increasing flood risk elsewhere and, where possible, to reduce flood risk overall, so it is critical that new buildings in these areas are designed and built appropriately to cope with floodwaters and minimize the time for reoccupation after a flooding event. 

Anthony Burd Head of Sector, Built Environment at BSI said: “Virtually every winter in the UK we seem to face the problem of flooding. This can have an adverse effect on both the domestic and commercial sector alike, and we are keen to help mitigate the damage it can do. There is not just the matter of the economic health of the construction industry to consider, but how to alleviate the considerable anguish experienced by many UK inhabitants too. Utilizing BS 85500 should enable sound preventative flood safe construction to occur, and bolster consumer confidence to build as a result of that foresight.”

The standard provides guidance on how to improve the resistance and resilience of buildings to reduce the impacts of flooding from all sources, by the use of suitable materials and construction measures. It is intended to help manage residual risk after other measures or approaches, such as avoiding risk, locating development in an area of low risk or raising floor levels, have been implemented. The primary area of focus is reducing the impacts of flooding through the design and specification of flood resistance and resilience for new buildings, extensions and retrofits and the adoption of appropriate construction measures. 

BS 85500 benefits:

  • Promoting the use of materials and construction elements that are more resilient to floodwaters
  • Minimizing delays in reoccupying properties after flooding, which can have a profound impact on the health and livelihoods of those affected
  • The potential to reduce business losses as a result of reducing the impacts of flood events
  • The potential to reduce the risk of mould and other health risks related to flooding impacts which have been shown to be likely to increase as a result of climate change
  • The potential to save energy as a result of reducing the need for excessive drying and restoration of flooded properties

Planning authorities, developers and designers in the UK working in construction companies and architectural practices and loss adjusters will find this practical guidance invaluable especially regarding flooding in new developments. It is essential that the construction industry offers innovative design solutions for flood resilient properties and this standard is the perfect tool for introducing such measures. BS 85500 was developed using a consensus-based approach with input from flood risk and watercourses experts, including representatives from the Association of London Borough of Planning Officers, BRE, DCLG and Defra.