We know there is still much work to be done on refining this process, so we have outlined five recommendations for the industry:
1. Knowledge sharing is vital. Firstly, we should learn from First Nations designers and architects who have been valuing wellbeing since time immemorial and implementing this into design. In addition, we should continue to build on the global lessons learned, particularly in the UK. Sharing resources, ideas, and best practices with architects and the wider industry will also speed up and improve how we measure social value.
2. We need a common language. There is currently a lack of consistency around definitions and methodologies of social value. There is a significant need for an industry body or the government to drive standardisation for everyone to adhere to. This could naturally follow on from the recently released government wellbeing framework and would avoid abortive work, confusion, and lack of trust in the measurement of social value.
3. Social value should be considered as part of the design process. The social outcomes should be established at the start of the project, tracked throughout the project duration, and measured following completion. It offers points of reflection, learning and a focus of resources throughout the project. This cyclical process enables us to be open and honest about what we are aiming for, how we are achieving the outcomes and what we do better so we can create better places for people in the future.
4. Methodologies need to be flexible. Not every architecture practice can conduct extensive social value measurements. The framework should allow for scalability of measurement depending on the project size, construction cost, and project sector. All architects should start to define the social outcomes they want to create and measure their impact now. Measuring a little is better than measuring nothing at all.
5. There is an opportunity for collaboration. There need to be additional values added to the ASVB that align with the social and environmental outcomes created through design. This is an opportunity for the building industry and government to collaborate on developing the required values for everyone to use.
We know that designing places with people’s wellbeing at the centre delivers incredible rewards to the community and society. Global precedents show that when social value is properly considered and tracked from the outset of projects, it has the potential to produce places that are better for communities. They can be safer, more embedded in the local community, more socially cohesive, and more sustainable.
The building industry, particularly architecture and design, has a crucial role to play in the success of places and the quality of people’s lives. By collaborating to create a standardised system to track and measure social value, we can create better places for all.