Key changes under BREEAM UK New Construction scheme

Key changes under BREEAM UK New Construction scheme

The BREEAM UK New Construction scheme which was rolled out in 2018 presented some significant updates to previous guidelines. We’ve gone over the revised standards to outline key changes, some of which require the involvement of Advisory Professionals (APs) earlier in the building design stages.

While use of the BREEAM assessment method is voluntary, obtaining a BREEAM rating can help to pave the way to planning approval, and is a mandatory requirement for many London-based Local Planning Authorities (LPAs).

BREEAM Assessor

To fully achieve enhanced building performance and therefore the targeted BREEAM rating, early engagement with a licensed BREEAM Assessor is advised, optimally from RIBA Stage 1 and no later than the concept stage. Doing so provides benefits such as a wider choice of design solutions, more flexibility in spending decisions, cost savings and the ability to steer design along a route that maximises ratings.

This immediate introduction is set to allow realistic targets to be met, required documentation to be collated, appropriate responsibilities to be understood, and low-cost solutions to environmental impacts to be applied.

Post-Occupancy Stage

A stronger emphasis has been placed on the Post-Occupancy Stage, which offers seven available credits if it is implemented (although these aren’t available for shell-only assessments). Although voluntary, this stage will encourage developers and contractors to monitor and report on the ‘actual performance’ of their buildings throughout the first two years, with the use of an independent third party for assessments and reporting.

From energy and water use to variances in performance, valuable data can be collated to enable stronger building performance through maintenance and create a feedback loop that strengthens sustainable design.


All assessment types will have nine credits available. An additional four credits are available for Prediction of Operational Energy Consumption (with the exception of shell-only assessments) where the developer undertakes additional design and Post-Occupancy Stage energy modelling and reports on their progress. Tying in with the Post-Occupancy Stage, the majority of the new credits fall under Ene01.


With five sections now reduced to two and the transport category completely restructured in the new scheme, the onus now falls on developers and contractors to highlight access to local amenities and transport links within their projects, particularly in mixed-use developments.

Under Tra01, a travel plan is now mandatory, and failure to provide one negates scoring in Tra02. Despite the number of credits for Tra01 being reduced to just two, those for Tra02 have been increased to 10, reflecting a need to analyse the existing situation to implement improved sustainable transport measures.


Now encompassing the previous Mat02 and Mat04 issues, the revised Mat01 incorporates the assessment of hard landscaping and insulation.

Developers can choose whether to follow the simplified Life Cycle Assessment model from BRE or progress with the more detailed IMPACT lifecycle assessment; the latter is recommended due to the additional seven credits it offers.

Mat03 remains largely intact but has been amended slightly to include the methodology and required definitions from the International 2016 scheme; the benchmarks for achieving credits have also been reduced.

Land Use and Ecology

Le02 – Le05 have been completely revised and take a new approach to assessment. Criteria now focus on understanding the ecological baseline of the site, managing negative impacts on site, assessing the solutions taken to enhance ecology on site, and maintaining new and existing ecological features.

A new Ecological Risk Evaluation Checklist has been published, offering further details on the site ecologist’s role.


Pol02 now focuses on local air quality; NOx, VOCs and particulate matter emissions are to be assessed, with benchmarks for NOx emissions being significantly reduced.

This section is now broader to include particle pollution from biomass to solid fuel systems, and offers a further two credits by using low-emission appliances to provide heat and hot water in buildings.


While some notable changes have been made to guidelines, the new scheme follows a similar pattern to its predecessor and considers the bigger picture of the building’s life cycle. View our assessment timeline which outlines the new scheme and its relation to the RIBA Plan of Works.

Our team of BREEAM Advisors is also on hand to get you up to speed with new regulations and their implementation. Read more about our BREEAM and sustainability services here.