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A crucial feature in the development of the estate is environmental sustainability and in 2009 Queen’s, in collaboration with Health Estates Northern Ireland and the University of Ulster, introduced the Sustainable Development Design Brief (SDDB). The Brief is designed to enhance the existing BREEAM environmental sustainability assessment method, in monitoring design proposals and construction practice against the highest sustainability standards. It is an integral part of the tender process for major projects and is included in the brief issued to design teams.

The SDDB includes a guide to sustainable development in practice, which identifies opportunities and targets in areas such as design, energy, waste, and procurement. Sustainable design credentials are key criteria in the selection of design teams and construction supply chains, with each required to provide evidence that they can deliver in this critical area. Once appointed, design teams must complete reporting pro-formas at each project review stage in relation to sustainability targets.