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BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 - The public consultation

Tackling the performance gap, snubbing SBEM and putting more focus on air quality - our first glimpse at the new BREEAM Manual paints an interesting picture for the future of design in the UK.


The Building Research Establishment (BRE) recently released a public consultation to give us all a chance to shape the details of BREEAM UK New Construction 2018.

This document is open for public review until 3rd November 2017 and feedback will then be taken on board before the final document is finalised, ready to go live next year.

Now’s your chance to have your say about how we’re going to be building BREEAM compliant developments for years to come. You can download the full consultation document here

Quite often, consultations like this are about fine-tuning, updating and clarifying the existing document – but not this time.


What's different about BREEAM UK New Construction 2018?

BREEAM 2018 is going through a substantial rewrite, with whole chunks being replaced, new credits being proposed and others being removed completely.

The most striking change is the introduction of the Verification Stage as a whole new stage of BREEAM that could follow on from Design and Post Construction.


The Verification Stage


The Verification Stage would look at the actual performance of the building for the first year of its use and compare this to the predicted energy use of the design assessment. Information about actual electricity, water and gas use, and occupancy levels would need to be collected, before being compared to the original assessment.

The Verification Stage is optional and will offer 12 credits in various categories. The idea behind this new stage is to bring focus onto the Performance Gap, which is a recognised problem with the way we currently assess buildings. The actual energy use once a building is occupied is often significantly higher than the design predictions. By introducing this new stage to BREEAM it’s hoped that developers will pay more attention to the Performance Gap. The more buildings that are assessed, the more data will be available to shape future revisions of our building energy models.


Proposed changes to how energy performance is measured

Another substantial shift is in the ENE01 section – how the building’s energy performance is measured. For non-domestic buildings, SBEM methodology has always been the go-to calculator to work out predicted energy performance, but maybe not for much longer.

The consultation document is quite clear that basing emission targets on Building Regulations calculations isn’t accurate enough and uses far too many assumptions. BRE want assessors to use alternative modelling software, but at this point haven’t specified exactly what should be used to replace it.

Based on the consultancy document, ENE01 would step away from using the Building and Target Emission Rates and instead use an alternative approach. This would include unregulated energy use based on a more thorough examination of the building’s occupancy use. This again links back to the apparent push to reduce the Performance Gap for assessments going forward.

As new developments still require Building Regulation compliance, there could be a risk that a BREEAM compliant building doesn’t meet Part L. This happened when some Passivhaus dwellings were compared against SAP.


What are the other proposed changes?

  • HEA02 may change to include a mandatory indoor air quality plan. Credits would be awarded for fresh ventilation systems, and post-construction air quality testing.
  • Safe Access is being taken out of HEA06 and given its own section – HEA07. This will offer one credit for adding cycle paths and safe footpaths, and another credit for building with outside space.
  • In the ENE section, it would be harder to comply with ENE03 (low energy lighting) with the minimum efficiency increasing from 60 to 70 lumens per circuit watt. Also, ENE09 (drying space) is being removed completely.
  • TRA03 is being expanded – this gives credits for providing suitable facilities for cyclists. The proposal increases this to include electric car charging points and car share schemes.
  • A new credit has been added to WST01 to reward developers for completing pre-demolition audits. This is to determine whether it would be feasible to renovate existing buildings on a site rather than building from scratch.
  • Credits for NOx emissions (POL02) is being expanded to include local air quality. This backs up the proposed change to HEA02 to encourage more monitoring and action to ensure there is clean air around the development.
  • Finally, the Land Use and Ecology section is expected to change but this is being covered under a separate consultation.


You have until 3rd November to register your thoughts on the proposed changes to BREEAM UK New Construction 2018. Feedback will then be used to help shape the final version. We’ll publish further blogs on this when the new manual is published.


Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 12.10.2017.