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How Can BREEAM Help to Achieve a High Quality Sustainable Urban Design in Public Transport?

How can BREEAM help to achieve high qualitysustainable urban design in


A case of Dhaka, Bangladesh


Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature review
  1. Introduction

The quality of urban life is heavily dependent on the efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation system. Urban transportation is an essential element to the fabric of urban life (ICT, 1974; O’Sullivan, Morrison and Shearer, 2000 and Adebola and Enosko, 2012).

Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated city of world. The rapid development of urbanization has made it difficult for us to ignore the result of loss of cultivated lands, water bodies, vegetation and wetland, which are prominent factors for environmental sustainability of any mega city. According to the top 20 megacities by population, Dhaka stands 5th  and its population is 18.237 million, with a density of 23,234 people per square kilometre within a total area of 300 square kilometres.

Lack of affordable, efficient and safe transportation system has various adverse effects on the city and on its people. Inadequate malfunctioning old buses, absence of mass transit system and paratransit against the demand of such an extensive population results in huge Traffic congestion, accidents, climate change and air pollution. Without providing sufficient public infrastructure, it is impossible to bring a change for the unbearable traffic problem and air pollution hazard in Dhaka. (, 2018)

Although mass transit is recommended for the smooth and efficient transport system in a city, still Dhaka is not planned enough to flourish bus service or light rail service or rapid transit system in the city. Bus is the available mass transit in the city. Moreover, income level of the inhabitants of the city is not high. So a huge demand for traveling by bus is there. (Ahmed, 2004)

The aim of this essay is to critically evaluate BREEAM’s standards and assessment method which can be implemented to reduce the current problems and to achieve high quality sustainability in public transport system in Dhaka.

  1. Literature review

2.1  Existing Public Transport System in Dhaka

Dhaka is perhaps the only mega city without any well-organized and properly scheduled public transport system. The population of Dhaka is 8.906 million (2011). The public transport modes of Dhaka incorporate double decker bus, single deck large bus, minibus, collective transport (staff bus, school/college/university bus) and rail. The number of bus vehicles in the city account for 16% of all motorized vehicles which carry 77% of the population (STP, 2005). There are approximately 400 km of footpath available for pedestrians ‘movements. But almost 40% of these footpaths are occupied by vendors and other encroachers (Rahman M.S., 2008). Due to insufficient public transport system, the use of private transport is increasing alarmingly thus creating huge traffic congestion and air pollution as well. There is a lack of proper connecting roads in the east west direction and consisting two major connection way through north-south direction creates a huge traffic congestion. Insufficient routes, disobedience of signal, competition of the buses in the same route to get more passengers creating life hazard for the passengers, absence of proper right of way, fixed schedule and passenger information system contributes extensively to the existing problem. Several incidents have taken place because the bus drivers often carry false driving licence and creates indiscipline in the roads.

The capital with an area of 1,529 square kilometres has 2,550 square kilometres of roads, according to Dhaka City Corporations.Main roads cover only 88 kilometres and private vehicles occupy most of them.According to a 2013 survey, only six percent of commuters in Dhaka use private vehicles but they occupy nearly 80 percent of the streets in the city. ( Source : Daily Star,2015)

Fig: Motorized Vehicle Composition in Dhaka (BRTA website 2013)

With the increasing number private vehicles (according to the chart), the CO2 emission has increased alarmingly and thus contributing to air pollution occurring in Dhaka. The inhabitants are suffering from headache, eye and skin irritation and breathing problems.

2.2  The significance of Public Transport System

Public transportation system contributes positively to every community. A strong public transport system helps to generate a well-balanced traffic flow and thus improves the mobility of its inhabitants.

  1. Commuting more number of people in fewer transport resulting into less traffic congestion
  2. Reducing private car uses
  3. Improving accessibility
  4. Creating community cohesion
  5. Less air pollution due to fewer vehicle movement
  6. Increasing physical activity
  7. Reducing accidents and creating safer road circulation

Transportation infrastructure which provides safe and reliable mobility for the inhabitants, to services and facilities, at global and local level with minimal emissions prove to be sustainable and equitable transport systems (Figure 1.1) (Black, 2010). BREEAM’s assessment helps to understand the demand for public transport and assess the transport system based on environmental and social sustainability.

Figure 1.1: Green Transport pyramid (Source: Zvirinsky, 2015)

2.3  Existing problems of Public Transport System

In Bangladesh, motorized traffic is growing rapidly, around 300 new motorized vehicles are coming on to road every day. The number of registered motorized vehicle grew from 737,400 in 2003 to 1,751,834 in June, 2012. More than 40% of all registered vehicles are in Dhaka (BRTA, 2012). The privately owned motor vehicles are increasing rapidly ( 200% for cars & 250% for motorbikes over the last 8 years). There are 7 flyovers in Dhaka which is completed, 2 are under construction and 4 other flyovers are at the procurement stage.

Ten years ago, nearly 7,500 buses plied on the streets of Dhaka, transport owners and workers claim. But that number has astonishingly dropped even as the number of citizens increased twice by 2015. According to latest Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) data, currently 5,407 buses are covering the 168 routes across the capital. Of them, 3,126 are minibuses and 2,281 buses. ( Source : Daily Star,2015)
2.3.1. Inadequate public transport facilities

The absence of mass rapid transport and inadequate number of buses cannot serve The increasing number of flyover cannot serve the huge population. The Strategic Transport Plan (STP, 2005) has recommended, the public transport (Bus/Rail service) should be augmented rather than making more flyovers. Moreover, Dhaka City has very inadequate road networks, which are only 8 or 10 percent of the total city area, whereas the acceptable ratio is 25 percent. The width of the roads varies from 6 to 40 m. The main roads are 15 to 25 m wide, newly built roads are 40 m wide while the roads in the older part of Dhaka are less than 6 m wide (Chowdhury, Mamun, 2013).

Fig: Farm gate Bus Commuters (Source: Dhaka Tribune)

2.3.2. Environmental degradation:

On the roads of Dhaka city the concentration of various infectious gases or suspended particles exceeds the acceptable limit set by WHO: a) Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx): 500 µgm/m3; b) Oxides of Sulphur (SOx ): 1200 µgm/m3 ; c) Carbon Mono-oxide (CO): 7500 µgm/m3 and d) Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM): 2500 µgm/m3 (STP, 2005).

The increasing number of private vehicles and unfit public transports are the major cause of serious air hazard in Dhaka. The decreasing air quality is a hinder to the pedestrian and bicyclist in the city. According to US Air quality index, Dhaka is one of the most polluted city in the world. The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 28.5 percent of 2016 greenhouse gas emissions is caused by this sector. (US EPA, 2016). As the private vehicles are increasing rapidly, the need to control environmental pollution is also urgent. People who are commuting in Dhaka every day, are suffering from serious health damage as a result of high emissions from motorized vehicle.

Fig :Air Quality Indexof Dhaka ( Data taken on Jan 3, 2019)(Source :

2.3.3. Traffic congestion:

About 3.2 million business hours are lost every day, which is about one hour per working people (Osman, 2011). The operating speeds in cities have fallen by more than 50 percent in the last two decades (Khan, 2013). Due to the number of vehicles on the road, people need to stay on the road for approximately 3 .30 hours due to traffic jam. This congestion is increasing day by day and not only it is killing business operation time but also impacting people’s health and work efficiency as they have to stay on the road for a long time in scorching heat and hazardous (air quality) environment.

Fig: Huge Traffic congestion in Motijheel Area (Source: Daily Star)

2.3.4. Safety and traffic operational hazard:

The traffic management is at a stake in Dhaka. The traffic police have to manually control traffic signal like primitive era. Lack of electronic provisions and disobedience to the traffic rules are leading to huge traffic congestion. Vulnarable roads and pedestrian walkways are causing fatalities and casualties. The key problems are:

  1. Motorized and non-motorized travel mode uses the same road space causing an operational disorder.
  2. Disobedience of the traffic rules by the drivers
  3. Irresponsible and careless driving and no concern for passenger safety
  4. Absence of proper bus bay
  5. Poor and vulnerable road structure
  6. Careless movement of pedestrians at traffic intersections in urban areas and around market places
  7. Poor quality of bus and deterioration of bus services by the operators, companies, drivers and conductors.

Study Area :

  1. Case Study

North West Bicester Masterplan

NW Bicester is the first Eco town in UK. The vision was to retain 40% of the environment as a green space.

“The overall design is centred around four urban and four rural areas interconnected through green lanes which include both direct and leisure routes, so everyone can get from home to work, and play, in no time at all.” (Bicester Masterplan, Vision & Objective, 2014)

Fig: North West Bicester Access and movement framework (Source: NW Bicester SPD,2015, P-28)

“Principles of “walkable neighborhoods” and “filtered permeability” have been applied in the master planning to determine the mix of uses and connections to predominantly daily facilities within the new community.” (North west Bicester SPD, 2015)

According to BREEAM standards, the following actions for improving movement framework have been taken to make NW Bicester, a sustainable Eco town:

  1. Public Transport Accessibility
  • The new Bicester masterplan will work with existing traffic congestion.
  • High quality and frequent bus service will be integrated with existing bus service.
  • A traffic link will be provided across the railway’s in the site’s center.
  • Access with two road loops on north and south of railway

Fig: NW Bicester Access & Transport strategy (Source: NW Bicester Masterplan Vision & Objective, 2014, P- 36)

  1. Proximity to Amenities

There are two local centres which are closely located to the residents. Two primary schools are also located in the middle of the housing areas so that people can reach there by walking. The additional recreational facilities, food outlets, ATM machines are located at a certain distance within the reach of pedestrian movement. These integrations with existing housing will allow its residents to enjoy the convenience of less travel distance and time management.

  1. Public transport facilities

“The Masterplan proposes a bus network through the site designed to transport passengers directly and efficiently to their destination and give the bus priority over other road vehicles.” (North west Bicester SPD, 2015)

  • Along with the rail service, high quality and frequent bus will be integrated
  • Providing a new railway underpass and improving Howes Lane
  • Access with new outer ring road OCC strategic option
  • Safe waiting area for bus
  • Real time travel information
  1. Pedestrian & Cycling Network
  • High quality walking and cycling links to and from the town and way marking
  • Providing new cycle storage
  • A bus/ cycle/ pedestrian only link across the railway in the site’s center
  • A walking and cycling underpass of the railway in the site’s center
  • A walking and cycling route parallel with the railway going towards the town center.
  1. Employment (Home Office)

“The ability of homes to provide flexible space for residents to work from home is a requirement of the phase 1 exemplar development.” (North west Bicester SPD, 2015)

The homeworking facility will provide flexible opportunity for its residents which will reduce the need to travel thus resulting into less traffic congestion. Also it will facilitate the provision of small business and local trader to use their home for employment.

  1. Carbon emission from transport

The vision of this eco town is to achieve zero carbon emissions. The pedestrian & cycling network infrastructure and public transport accessibility will reduce private vehicles. Reducing private vehicle will reduce emissions from cars and will help achieving zero carbon emission.

  1. Application of BREEAM in Public Transportation System:

BREEAM is a sustainability assessment method that is used to assess masterplan projects, infrastructure and buildings. If the criterions can be implemented, a successful sustainable transport system can be installed in Dhaka. The criterions are

4.1  Public transport accessibility

BREEAM encourages proximity of good public transport networks, and reduces transport-related pollution and congestion.

  1. Accessibility index:

A measure that provides an indicator of the accessibility and density of the public transport network at a point of interest. The index is influenced by the proximity and diversity of the public transport network and the level or frequency of service at the accessible node. (BREEAM international NC, 2016. P- 197-198) 

BREEAM uses the PTAL method to access AI and the indicators are:

  1. Distance from the main building entrance to public transport node
  2. The public transport types serving the compliant node, e.g. bus or rail
  3. The average number of services stopping per hour at each compliant node during the operating hours of the building for a typical day
  1. Dedicated Bus Service:

This credit is applicable where it is not possible to achieve any of the available credits using the Accessibility Index criteria.

For buildings with a fixed shift pattern, i.e. where building users will predominantly arrive or depart at set times, one credit can be awarded where the building occupier provides, or commits to providing a dedicated bus service to and from the building at the beginning and end of each shift or day. (BREEAM international NC, 2016. P- 197-198)

Application to the study area, Dhaka:

To achieve maximum number of credits, the following actions can be taken:

  1. Placing transport node at a regular interval
  2. Increasing number of public transports to mitigate the demand
  3. Reducing use of private vehicles thus contributing to lessen traffic jam
  4. Providing proper bus bay to avoid traffic congestion in the road.

4.2  Proximity to amenities

To encourage and reward a building location that facilitates easy access to local services and so reduces the environmental, social and economic impacts resulting from multiple or extended building user journeys, including transport-related emissions and traffic congestion.

There are two types of amenities for which the credits will be available for:

  1. Core amenities
  2. Amenity relevant to building type

Accessible amenities should be within the required proximity of the building and accessible via safe

If it can be achieved in Dhaka, it will:

  1. Reduce the need to commute for these purposes
  2. Providing safe pedestrian area to reach the amenities thus contributing to lessen congestion
  3. Providing people, a healthy environment.
  4. The place of NMT by providing a sustainable transport system.

4.3  Alternative mode of Transportation (Cycling network improvement)

  1. BREEAM and other environmental assessments


BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 200,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million registered for assessment since it was first launched in 1990.

“The BRE Environmental Assessment Method, BREEAM, is a voluntary assessment method used to describe both new and existing buildings’ environmental performance. The method originated in the UK, but buildings built outside the UK can also be assessed using BREEAM: International.”(Building, 2018)


“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification system developed in the US by the US Green Building Council. It is aimed at improving a building’s environmental performance in areas such as energy savings, water efficiency and CO2 emissions reduction.” (Building, 2018)


“Green Star is an Australian environmental rating system launched in 2003 which was developed by the Green Building Council Australia [17]. The assessment tool was originally developed to accommodate buildings’ requirements in hot climates, where cooling systems and solar shading are considered as being of fundamental importance.” (Building, 2018)


Estidama is the first environmental assessment method developed in the Middle East especially in the Arabian Gulf countries.


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  6. Ahmed, S. 2004. A Study of the Performance of Bus Transport Services in Some Selected Routes of Dhaka City. MURP thesis, Department of Urban & Regional Planning, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, Dhaka.
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Available at <

green-fuel-types> Accessed on 10.01.2017

  1. Research gate. (2014). Achieving Sustainable Transport in Metro Dhaka: The Role and Integration of Non-MotorizedTransport.[online]Available at: [Accessed 3 Jan. 2019].
  2. Chowdhury, M. M. (2013), “Traffic Congestion and Mismanagement in Dhaka City”, Planned Decentralization: Aspired Development, World Town Planning Day 2013.
  3. BREEAM. (2017). Qinglong Mountain International Eco-City, Nanjing, China – BREEAM. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2019].
  4. Pourmatin, R. (2017). China’s new approach to masterplan designs. [online] BRE Buzz. Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2019].
  5. US EPA. (2016). Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions | US EPA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2019].
  6. (2015). North West Bicester Supplementary Planning Document. [online] Available at: [Accessed Jan. 2019].
  7. NORTH West Bicester (2014) NW Bicester Masterplan: Vision and Objectives. [online] Available at: Bicester Masterplan Vision and Objectives-Pt1.pdf [Accessed 02 Jan. 2019].
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