The Evolution of BREEAM

6 Jul 2018

While not radically different to its predecessor, BREEAM New Construction 2018 does contain some significant changes. These include greater use of Environment Performance Declarations (EPDs) for Life Cycle Analysis in the Materials category. Another is an overhaul of the methodology related to the use of recycled aggregates.

These credits now recognise that local virgin aggregate may be the most sustainable aggregate source for a given location and a new metric linking abundance and method and distance of transportation has been introduced.

Meeting BREEAM with Concrete

BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. It recognises and reflects the value in higher performing assets across the built environment lifecycle, from new construction to in-use and refurbishment. There are many recent examples of new construction in the UK that have achieved Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding certification using concrete as the principle structural material.

Assessment covers a range of sustainability issues including aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management. A holistic, wholelife approach is at the core of the assessment methodology. Uniquely, concrete has the versatility and potential to contribute to achieving credits across a wide range of categories.

Many of the credits relate to environmental performance benefits, such as durability, acoustic isolation and flood resilience, but most significantly the use of concrete’s high thermal mass assists with the reduction of energy consumption and lower
carbon emissions in use.

BREEAM is updated regularly in order to maintain recognition of best practice in sustainable construction, and to take into account changes in regulation and standards. The latest version of BREEAM New Construction was published in 2018, so while some projects already in progress may continue to be assessed against the 2014 Technical Manual up until 2023, new project registrations after 23 March 2018 will be assessed under this slightly amended version.

One interesting amendment in the latest version is a change to the methodology relating to the use of recycled aggregates. The credit now recognises that local aggregates may be the most sustainable source for a given location, so a new metric linking abundance with the method and distance of transportation has been introduced.

Further details on BREEAM scores can be found in Concrete and BREEAM.