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A guide for design teams - Maximising social value in design

In June 2019, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) joined the global declaration of an environmental and climate emergency. This was to provide RIBA members with the tools needed to strengthen their position as sustainable leaders of the built environment. Furthermore, RIBA released a guide of RIBA Sustainable Outcomes. These outlined Sustainable Communities and social value as one of the eight core themes.

Social value is a measure of the additional benefits that an organisation and its supply chain can bring to society. It is defined within the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 (the Act) as the ‘economic, social and environmental wellbeing’ that is created by a service (or development) and is delivered as both direct and indirect outcomes or additional benefits to society arising from an intervention over time. In January 2021, Central Government updated their guidance to the Act by requiring all major procurements not only consider but explicitly evaluate social value with a minimum weighting of 10%. Additionally, this requirement was included within the Construction Playbook which is supporting a number of leading councils now looking to embed social value into their planning processes.

Social value in design

In real estate and the built environment, leading councils, developers and investors alike are looking at how they can do more for the local communities where they operate. Therefore, design and project teams are hugely important to ensure social value is embedded in a project from the outset. As the ‘social value movement’ spreads across the built environment sector, the Social Value in Design Taskforce (the Taskforce) was set up to address the challenges that design teams face when looking to bring social value into a project. The Taskforce comprises many organisations from across the sector including designers, architects, transport planners, engineers, sustainability consultants and other built environment professionals.

We have developed this guidance to support design teams to embed social value in their work.

The guidance

Maximising social value in design covers the following:

  • An introduction to social value
  • How does real estate create social value?
  • Measuring social value
  • Designing for social value – the how and the what
  • The how: social plan of work
  • The what: social value in design checklist
  • Social value action plans

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A guide for design teams - Maximising social value in design