In amongst the maze of PV panels and shiny heating systems at this year’s Ecobuild exhibition at London’s Excel Centre, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) officially released BREEAM New Construction 2018.
The manual, which sets out sustainable building practices, will shortly be replacing the current 2014 version. Now the new details have been released, developers have just a two week grace period (until March 23rd) to decide whether to register their upcoming sites under the older scheme, or to be among the first to get involved with the new scheme.
The team at BRE have perfected their poker faces and have been keeping their cards well hidden prior to this launch, making it difficult to know what to expect from the new set of requirements.
In fact, the 2018 New Construction manual has pretty much gone through a complete rewrite. The manual is clearer to read, has been made slightly shorter and BRE have even added a splash of colour to break up the technical text.
Despite the big shake up in appearance, developers and contractors will be glad to discover the requirements and complexities aren’t too dissimilar from the previous version. There are a few big adjustments to be aware of, which we’ll cover off in a series of blogs.
Use the heading links below to skip to each section
Until now there have always been two stages of BREEAM: The Design Stage (which lets a developer plan out their route to BREEAM compliance before work gets underway on site) and the Post-Construction Stage (which confirms the building has been constructed as intended). There is now a third, voluntary stage available – the Post Occupancy Stage.
This new step encourages developers and contractors to introduce monitoring and reporting of the actual performance of the building during the first two years of occupation. There has long been an argument in the industry that sustainable methodologies (BREEAM, Code for Sustainable Homes, SAP, SBEM, EPCs) don’t reflect real life, and buildings often far exceed the energy demands as calculated during design.
BREEAM’s Post Occupancy Stage (which isn’t available for shell-only assessments) requires the recording of energy and water use, and encourages the Facilities Manager to look for deficiencies in performance, and opportunities for making the building perform more efficiently.
It’s hoped this technique can gather valuable data about the performance gap, and can be used to influence building performance in the future.
There are seven credits available – six in Energy and one in Water – for any BREEAM assessment where Post Occupancy Stage is adopted.
The MAN03 section encourages construction sites which are managed in an environmentally and socially considerate manner. Previously, there were two credits available if a developer adopted a Considerate Constructor’s Scheme.
This has been replaced with a checklist of 19 requirements covering areas such as creating a safe site entrance, minimising air, light and water pollution, provide equipment for medical emergencies, minimising the risk of anti-social behaviour and site training. One Management credit is available if you commit to nine of these requirements, with a further credit if you meet 15.
There is also a new requirement in this section for the client and contractor to formally agree performance targets. Under the previous BREEAM, performance only needed to be monitored.
The credit for commissioning a Building User Guide has been made tougher. You now need two separate guides – a technical guide for the Facilities Manager, and a basic guide for a typical building user. A training schedule should also be developed, and split out in a similar way.
The TRA section of BREEAM – which sets out how occupants get access to local amenities and transport links - has completely changed, with the emphasis on how developers and contractors can make improvements as part of the building works. There are now just two sections in this category, offering 12 credits (previously there were five).
TRA01 offers two credits if you raise awareness to occupants about existing local transport links, and identify how it could be improved to make it more sustainable.
This Travel Plan should be site specific, and needs to consider existing facilities for cyclists and walkers, the proximity to local amenities, disabled access, and trends and patterns.
Developers and contractors should create this plan with the building occupier (if known), and demonstrate how their building work will ultimately improve transport links in the area.
There are ten credits available in the new TRA02 section. This encourages sustainable transport measures appropriate for the site. There is a list of 11 transport measures to consider introducing to the site, with credits awarded depending on how many measures are adopted. The list includes introducing new bus routes, better signposting for footpaths, electric car charging points, encouraging car share schemes and providing cyclists with stores, lockers and showers.
This is another part of BREEAM that’s had a facelift with a few noticeable changes. The mandatory credit to measure the impact on existing site ecology has been axed. But with up to 13 credits available in Land Use and Ecology, we would still recommend giving this section a high degree of focus.
A new Ecological Risk Evaluation Checklist – yet to be published – will set out more details about the role of your site ecologist, and how important their work will be in obtaining LE credits.
The first part – Site Selection – is unchanged; with two credits available for using previously occupied or contaminated land.
After this, the rest of the LE section is new. It’s been rewritten using a stepping-stone approach, so you need to complete one section before you can move onto the next.
Starting with LE02, there are two credits if you create a site survey to evaluate the ecological baseline, and identify opportunities for improvement. It appears this work no longer needs to be carried out by a qualified ecologist, but more credits are available if you employ a trained professional to carry out the analysis.
The next step offers three credits if you can avoid negative impacts on the site ecology – again more credits are available if an ecologist is used.
Next, up to four credits can be claimed if you can enhance the ecological value of the site. And finally, two credits if you secure ongoing monitoring, management and maintenance of the site’s ecological features.
There’s currently a real buzz around how we need to reduce air pollution in our towns and cities. New development has to play its part by improving air quality when feasible.
POL02 previously focused only on NOx emissions caused by a new development, but this has been made broader to also cover particle pollution from biomass and solid fuel systems. Two credits are available by using low emission appliances to provide heat and hot water in the buildings. These new targets could pose a real challenge in our bigger cities.
Also, the HEA02 section of BREEAM has been updated; This deals with indoor air quality. For starters, you can’t claim any of the four credits in this section until an indoor air quality plan has been created. This needs to consider how contaminants are removed from the building, and how good air quality is maintained.
Previous focus in this section was given to the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emission levels of paint to ensure products are not leaving lingering particles in the building. This has now been expanded to consider the impact on air quality from other building materials including wood, plaster and insulation. The TVOC (Total Volatile Organic Compounds) is assessed, with a credit available if the design is expected to keep air quality within a suitable level. A further credit is available if real-life air quality is measured and passes following construction.
Credits in POL03 (Surface Water Run Off) are now harder to achieve. Previously you could earn a credit for showing the run off rate from the site will be no worse following development. Under the 2018 changes, you need to show how the development will improve the run off rate by at least 30%.
The ENE01 section (reduction of energy use and carbon emissions) is where most of the new Post-Occupancy Stage are available.
Previously this section awarded 12 credits depending on how well the building was designed to limit energy use. This has been reduced so only 9 credits are available at the design stage. As such, we’re expecting less credits will be achieved if we compare like-for-like developments between the old and new BREEAM schemes.
Four credits are now available if the developer undertakes additional energy modelling during the design and post construction stages, sets targets and reports on their progress.
And up to three extra exemplary credits are available if the building achieves carbon negativity (generates more energy than it needs).
HEA06 has been split in two. The new HEA06 offers one credit if a security assessment of the proposed development is completed, and its recommendations are implemented. This would look at concerns such as external security lighting, CCTV and reducing dark, enclosed areas where crime is more likely to occur.
The new HEA07 offers two credits for providing occupants with safe access, dedicated cycle paths and storage, safe footpaths between buildings, vehicle drop off points and an outside amenity area.
The way you score credits through the materials you choose is changing. The option of gaining points by following the Green Guide Rating has been dropped. Instead, developers and contractors can choose to follow BRE’s Life Cycle Assessment tool, or go with Impact – a more enhanced calculation approach. With 7 credits available in MAT01, we’d recommend taking the Impact approach.
Elsewhere, if you want the credit for MAT06 (Material efficiency), you now need to set targets, develop and record the efficiency of building materials. And in MAT05 (Design for durability and resilience), an extra section has been added to include protection against malicious damage of the building materials.
Pleasingly, the Waste section has been tidied up. There’s a few changes to keep in mind.
A new credit is available if a pre-demolition audit is completed. This should show the feasibility of refurbishing existing buildings rather than knocking them down.
The credit for using recycled aggregates on site has been expanded which could encourage more developers and contractors into monitoring how much of their materials are recycled, and how far they’ve travelled to get to site.
The WST05 credit – adaptation to climate change – has been expanded to include building services and renewable installations. It previously focused on building material and structure only.
There’s also a new section. WST06 offers two credits if you look to avoid unnecessary materials use, cost and disruption from future changes to the development.
This 2018 version of BREEAM New Construction doesn’t set out to change anything too radically and despite having such a large rewrite, doesn’t put us in a position too far away from where we stand today.
It will be interesting to see how the introduction of the Post Occupancy Stage plays out in real life, and how many developers and contractors are going to chase this handful of credits.
Rather than making certain areas more complicated, it seems the purpose of this update has been to add clarity, bring certain sections up to date, give more focus on the bigger picture of a building’s life cycle and generally give the scheme a bit of a Spring clean.
BRE may have tightened up some areas – such as less credits for your SBEM result in ENE01 and a bigger list of requirements in Transport (car charging points and priority spaces for carshares), but not everything has been made stricter; The changes in Land Use and Ecology may give some developers and contractors the flexibility to focus on chasing alternative credits.
Our in-house BREEAM and Advisory Professional assessors are on hand to help guide you through your next project, whether you opted to pre-register under the 2014 scheme, or whether you’ve dived into the new scheme head first.