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BREEAM New construction 2018: Key changes

March 2018

BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 launches on 7th March, with the 2014 scheme closing for new registrations on 23rd March. In this article we highlight some of the key changes within this latest version of BREEAM, and the differences this will create on applicable schemes in the future.

Why Update BREEAM?

The BRE has historically updated its assessment methodologies on three to four year cycles. As the current version of BREEAM New Construction was released in 2014, the 2018 update is in line with standard BRE timeframes.

The aim of BREEAM is to promote performance beyond the minimum regulatory requirements and reward current best practice. Therefore, as both Building Regulations and industry best practice evolve and advance so must BREEAM. The BRE states that updates ‘also provide an opportunity to address feedback from assessors, clients and other stakeholders’.

Scope of the Update

As part of the update process all technical issues will be reviewed. Many of the subsequent changes will be relatively minor, however the BRE has presented several key changes to the new methodology, including significant efforts to address the performance gap and tangible rewards for buildings that can prove operation as designed. Major alterations are also planned for the following assessment criteria:

  • Measuring unregulated and operational energy use
  • Detailed calculations of embodied energy, standardising life cycle assessments to influence design
  • Transport, to include the increasing use of electric vehicles
  • Health and wellbeing developments, reflecting the growing popularity of the WELL Building Standard and equivalents
  • Building resilience in the face of a changing climate


BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 will be released on the 7th March 2018, following a two stage consultation process. The 2014 version of the scheme will close for new registrations on 23rd March. It will still be possible to register projects under BREEAM UK New Construction 2014 in certain circumstances, such as where it is linked to specific planning conditions or funding requirements.

Credit Headlines

The following credits have been identified as key considerations for clients likely involved in 2018 BREEAM schemes;

Sustainability Champion – early appointment is key

The Sustainability Champion credits will now be awarded for engagement with the BREEAM Advisory Professional role. XCO2 are fully qualified to offer this new service and provide advice and guidance throughout the BREEAM process, from early stage input, through to final Post Construction Stage certification. Sustainability Champions must be appointed as early as possible within the design process or risk missing the appointment deadline and jeopardising credit achievement.

Responsible Construction Practices – beyond considerate constructors

The credits that were previously available for achieving certification with the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) have been amended to make this issue more than a minimum requirement. CCS is still recommended for all schemes; however, contractors will have to implement specific measures beyond CCS compliance to achieve these credits in the 2018 scheme.

Health and Wellbeing – providing secure outdoor spaces

There have been minimal changes to the security criteria; however, a new exemplary level credit is available for utilising a compliant risk based security rating scheme (Secured by Design or SABRE). A new credit (HEA 07) can now be awarded for provision of outdoor amenity space for building users.

Energy calculations – including operational

This section has received one of the most significant updates, with the addition of four new credits for predicting operational energy consumption. The energy assessor appointed for the scheme will need to undertake the following additional tasks:

  1. Predict operational energy consumption figures through modelling
  2. Report predicted energy consumption targets
  3. Carry out a risk assessment to highlight design, technical, and process risks that should be monitored and managed throughout the construction and commissioning process.

The energy modeller will therefore be able to present the client with predicted operational utility costs, as well as achievable targets for in-use energy saving. XCO2 will be able to provide advisory and technical expertise for clients.

Transport – Increased flexibility

To increase flexibility in this section, this issued is rebranded from ‘Cyclist Facilities’ to ‘Alternative Modes of Transport’. Projects will be able to achieve credits by either:

  1. Making improvements to the local cycling network
  2. Increasing the local bus service
  3. Provide electric car parking for at least 3% of the total car parking capacity
  4. Set up a car sharing group and provide dedicated ‘car sharing’ spaces
  5. Install compliance cycle storage spaces and facilities

In addition to the above, BRE are considering a complete re-structure of the transport section to address the discrepancy in performance between urban and rural sites (historically this section has favoured urban site, which are invariably better served by public transport networks). Full details will be released in the forthcoming methodology.

Environmental impacts from construction products – life cycle assessments

Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) are heavily encouraged in the new BREEAM methodology, with up to six credits available for conducting LCA comparisons of the building fabric at various RIBA stages. Further credits are available for expanding LCA boundaries to include external realm, core building services, cost comparisons and external verification.

Air Quality – varying maximum levels

Maximum allowable NOx emission levels will now vary depending on whether the project is located inside an Air Quality Management Area.

Design for Disassembly and Adaptability – a multi- stage requirement

The principles of a circular economy are emphasised in this re-worked credit, with the requirements becoming substantially more challenging to achieve.

As per the 2014 methodology, a study to explore the ease of disassembly and the functional adaptation potential of different design scenarios must be completed by Concept Design. The 2018 methodology then requires a written update during Detailed Design stage, as well as the production of a building adaptability guide for handover to ensure the inclusion of the recommendations made in the early design stage.

The larger amount of input required to attain this credit reflects the BRE’s intent to remove ‘tick-box’ credits from the assessment methodology, and ensure that design measures that genuinely improve sustainability are encouraged from early RIBA stages.

Land Use and Ecology – still a mystery…?

The land use and ecology section is currently undergoing a separate consultation exercise. This will be in line with the new BREEAM UK Strategic Ecology Framework. More information will be released with the forthcoming 2018 methodology.



The release of the 2018 BREEAM methodology will undoubtedly challenge developers of future schemes to achieve new standards of sustainable building design. The inclusion of topical sustainability issues, including circular economies, embodied carbon, electric vehicles and operational energy modelling demonstrates the BRE’s success in keeping their green building certification up-to-date and forward-thinking.

With the forthcoming BREEAM 2018 methodology release comes the close of the 2014 scheme registrations – please note all schemes under 2014 must be registered prior to 23rd March 2018.

XCO2 are delighted to provide advisory support, Accredited Professional consultancy services, as well as in-house mechanical and electrical design expertise to ensure your project achieves the BREEAM certification desired or required. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any queries or project requests, and we look forward to working with you.



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