National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March 2012 with the aim to make the planning system less complex and more accessible, to protect the environment and to promote sustainable growth.

Exactly what constitutes ‘sustainable development’ has long been an area for debate. NPPF enshrines the Brundtland principles of sustainable development and clarifying this further, the UK Sustainable Development Strategy, ‘Securing the Future’, sets out five guiding principles of sustainable development:

  • Living within the planet’s environmental limits
  • Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society
  • Achieving a sustainable economy
  • Promoting good governance
  • Using sound science responsibly.

In order to achieve these aims it is important to focus on the practicalities of whole life sustainability from design through to end-of-life including the long-term operation of buildings, which is the source of the vast majority of CO2 emissions.

Heavyweight concrete construction offers a formidable range of long-term sustainability benefits. Its thermal mass is widely recognised as being an essential part of low energy building strategies. The thermal efficiency of heavyweight construction reduces or even negates the need for energy hungry air conditioning and heating plus it reduces the use of and/or the need for renewable. It plays an increasingly important role in providing energy savings for housing, especially when used in conjunction with Passive Solar Design.

Heavyweight construction is robust and flood resilient, it has inherent fire resistance and sound insulation and does not need additional finishes or chemical preservatives. The robustness and thermal efficiency benefits of heavyweight construction means that it is fully resilient and able to cope with the increased risk of severe storms, flooding and hotter summer temperatures resulting from predicted climate change. At the end-of-life, concrete buildings can be easily altered to answer new user demands. Should this not be an option, concrete can be fully recycled to create new construction materials.

Concrete products are locally sourced from within the UK. The average delivery distance  is 25 miles (41km) for concrete products. Furthermore, concrete products are responsibly sourced with a high recycled content. Concrete blocks can contain up to 80% recycled material and overall do not produce waste. Indeed, the UK concrete industry uses 210 times more waste than it sends to landfill (based on 2017 data).

To find out more about the sustainable performance of the concrete industry visit

For guidance on the sustainable performance of concrete and masonry in use explore Performance & Sustainability.