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BREEAM 2018 – What’s Coming?

October 20, 2017
BREEAM update 2018

BRE launched its consultation on the draft of the new BREEAM 2018 earlier this month – read report

As always with proposed changes, there’s things we welcome and there’s some new challenges we believe will concern industry. But, as George Bernard-Shaw once said “Progress is impossible without change”. Read our synopsis of some of the key changes or click below to read the full review:-

Read Review buttonNew Approach to Ecology (and Transport?)

The potential to change the approach to the ecology credits has been talked about for some time – and is the subject of a separate consultation. There’s still some uncertainty on exactly how the new approach will be structured (how many credits etc) but fundamentally, there would be a much closer evaluation of the risks and opportunities of a particular site, considering the wider multi-functional benefits of enhancing ecological value (e.g. wellbeing, amenity value, resilience to future climates etc). The new approach is more process led, with recognition for consulting with relevant stakeholders and implementing agreed solutions. To us, it aligns more with a strong masterplanning approach and EIA ecological assessments, but the question remains as to how this would work on a small site with limited opportunity?
There is also a suggested alternative approach to the Transport credits, again more focused on site-specific risks and opportunities than a prescriptive approach, although it’s unclear how serious this suggestion is, as it’s been slotted into the introductory pages of the draft manual, rather than laid out in the main Transport section.

No more BRE Green Guide?

The approach to assessing the impact and choice of sustainable materials is undergoing a radical change. No more requirements for A or A+ rated materials, the emphasis of the new credits is on Life Cycle Costing and Life Cycle Analysis, and the use of materials that have Environmental Product Declarations. The approach to the credits is complex and going to require tools such as One-Click that Envision is using to complete LCC assessments. The approach will inevitably require a far more in – depth consideration of materials and their life cycle impacts, and will place more emphasis on designers and contractors using materials which carry robust environmental certification. We’re currently reviewing the impact this new method could have on our clients who have pre – defined design standards, the approach in particular taken by a number of our retail clients.

Reward for Proactive Project Teams

Within the proposed changes to the material credits, and across all categories, is a positive recognition of analysis being undertaken at an early stage in the design, and refined through the detailed design. This seems to be a pragmatic and sensible approach, rewarding teams that really embrace the sustainable design concepts from the outset, as long as the early involvement actually leads to improvements in design, and not just more meetings/consultant fees.

New Layout and Structure of BREEAM Manual

With the increasing popularity of infographics and emoticons, BRE has adopted a new style to the manual, setting out the requirements more clearly with a good use of visuals (e.g. new icons to clarify what is applicable to fully-fitted, shell only etc) and the compliance requirements seem to be more succinct and easier to follow. There is also a new introduction page for each credit which explains the aim, value and context of the credit, intended to be used as explanatory notes to share with design teams.

Movers and Shakers

Some credits have been moved to different sections, deemed more appropriate to the credit aim, with a few other requirements introduced across the categories. For example, during construction, there is less emphasis on requiring the site to be registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme, with an alternative ‘criteria-based’ approach gaining more credits. Envision is advising our contractor clients on the implications of this alternative approach.
Following the review BRE undertook earlier this year on the alignment of BREEAM with the WELL Standard, there are also changes to the Health and Wellbeing criteria. A credit for providing outside space has been introduced into the technical manual in recognition to the valuable role public realm can have. This throwback to the BREEAM 2008 era is something we, at Envision, fully support. (Our Oxford office is just moving to Howbery Park, set in the grounds of a former manor house on the banks of the River Thames with lots of outside space!)

Closing the Performance Gap?

The final major change is to energy, requiring more extensive building modelling above and beyond Building Regulations compliance that has previously been accepted. The Ene 1 credits have been adjusted, and emphasis has been placed on a more accurate prediction of both regulated and unregulated energy emissions, with modelling required for up to seven different climate and occupancy scenarios to gain energy credits required for high BREEAM scoring.
Linked to this is recognition of the need to close the energy gap between what is ‘designed’ and what’s achieved – introducing an optional verification stage, to be carried out a minimum of 12 months after occupation. Focused on actions taken during handover and monitoring of actual performance compared to the design predictions, this would provide an additional certificate. But will anyone actually want to do this, and can we expect planning conditions or funding requirements to drive this in the future? These are important questions which need to be answered. At present this new verification stage seems to have limited teeth and may simply be ignored by the industry. Either way this seems to be the first move towards what in the future will be a mandatory requirement for a third stage in a building’s certification, more closely aligned with the WELL Standard.

What Do You Think?

At Envision, we’re preparing our consultation response and are keen to hear your thoughts. If you are as interested as us, we have undertaken a full review of the changes to the criteria which are available by following this link…

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss. Contact us on 0207 4860680 or contact@envisioneco.com

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