Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology, UK New Construction 2018


The BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 scheme can be used to assess the environmental life cycle impacts of new non-domestic buildings at the design and construction stages in the UK. The ‘materials’ life cycle assessment contributes up to 10% of the total credits in the system, so to achieve the highest possible BREEAM rating, the project team must also focus on materials. Parts of the credit can only be achieved if the studies are performed during the concept design phase and before applying for planning permission.

BREEAM LCA requirements are based on European Standard EN 15978. The Building Research Establishment Limited (BRE) approves LCA tools prior to allowing their use for BREEAM, using an objective, science-based methodology ensuring quality of data and assessment methods. Comparisons to the benchmarks are based on a normalized environmental impact methodology called Ecopoints, which is part of BRE’s IMPACT LCA methodology. There is no mandatory minimum LCA performance requirement. The BREEAM Mat 01 Environmental impacts from construction products – Building life cycle assessment provides project teams credits for the following:

  1. Comparison of the LCA results with a benchmark during Concept Design and Technical Design (only offices, retail, and industrial buildings)
  2. Comparison of the LCA results with a benchmark during Technical Design
  3. Comparison of concept-level superstructure options during Concept Design
  4. Comparison of detailed superstructure options during Technical Design
  5. Comparison of concept-level substructure and hard landscaping options
  6. Comparison of concept-level core building services options (an exemplary credit – it is provided when the building meets exemplary performance levels listed in the Technical Manual of the rating system.)
  7. Aligning LCA and Life-Cycle Costing for the options (an exemplary credit)
  8. Third party verification of the accuracy of the LCA work (an exemplary credit)

As mentioned above, the LCA results are compared mainly in two phases:

  • Concept Design: The objective at the stage of Concept design is to develop outline proposals including site and spatial planning, building form, structural and building services strategies, outline specifications, preliminary cost budget including relevant project strategies which support or influence the design programme, and the ability to comply with BREEAM requirements as the project progresses. Activities can include: preparing the sustainability strategy, maintenance and operational strategy, handover strategies, carrying out risk assessments, reviewing the project programme, considering construction logistics to ensure efficiency, developing health and safety strategy, undertaking any third party consultations as required, and any research and development aspects.
  • Technical Design: It involves the preparation of all information required to manufacture and construct a building. The core documents at the start of this stage are the Responsibility matrix, information requirements and the Design Programme, which is heavily influences by the Procurement Strategy.

BREEAM Summary of Credits is shown in the Table below.

Concept & Technical Design phase Credits
Superstructure Benchmark LCA Up to 6 credits
Substructure and hard landscaping options appraisal during concept design 1 credit
Core building services options appraisal during Concept Design 1 credit
LCA and LCC alignment 1 credit
Third Party verification 1 credit

1) BREEAM, UK New Construction 2018

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