Definition and principles – Approved Innovations


A BREEAM Approved Innovation is a one-time recognition for an innovative technology or process that meets five principles:

  • Uniqueness
  • Benefit
  • Performance
  • Replicability
  • Dissemination (knowledge sharing)

Recognition for an approved innovation is only ever awarded once and cannot be recognised again. This recognition extends across all our schemes, and all territories. Approved innovations are listed in KBCN1268.

The approved innovations process does not certify the technology or process itself. See KBCN0450.

Approved innovations are only available in specific BREEAM schemes. See KBCN0463.


1. Uniqueness

Approved innovations are unique.

  • Unique globally means that there are no similar known precedents for the proposal anywhere in the world.
  • Unique locally means that there are precedents, but the way that the concept is being applied and adapted to a local context is unique.

We independently research and consider all precedents. Precedents can come from anywhere in the world and from any project; precedents are not limited to projects with BREEAM assessments. Proposed innovations must represent an entirely new precedent or a significant advancement on an existing or emerging trend in industry.

2. Benefit

Approved innovations create measurable sustainability benefits. The benefits can be environmental, economic, or social.

3. Performance

Approved innovations result in performance above or beyond existing BREEAM benchmarks. They are either:

  • Outside of what is measured in BREEAM or,
  • Exceed exemplary BREEAM benchmarks.

To ensure a consistent approach we check benchmarks across all our schemes, not just the scheme being used to assess the project.

4. Replicability

Approved innovations are repeatable elsewhere on other projects. The technology or process cannot be a single, niche application.

5. Dissemination (knowledge sharing)

Knowledge and learning from approved innovations must be shared with the wider industry, not kept confidential.

The ultimate outcome for a successful application is to be a potential catalyst for wider change in the industry – replicability and knowledge sharing are essential for this.


Is this proposed innovation unique and first of its kind in the world?

If no, then how is the application of the technology, design, or process innovative for the local context?

  • Are there additional benefits from the application of this new technology, design or process in a new context that could be considered innovative?
  • Is the proposed innovation being adapted for significantly different conditions to those in which it is normally applied that could be considered innovative?

Does the proposed innovation provide a measurable environmental, economic, or social benefit to the asset being assessed?

Does the impact of the proposed innovation go beyond the scope of existing BREEAM criteria? Or does it exceed exemplary BREEAM benchmarks by a significant margin?

Is it practical to replicate this proposed innovation on other projects?

Will the lessons learned from this proposed innovation be shared with the wider industry?


An Approved Innovation is designed to recognise innovative technologies or processes that meet the above definition. Successful applications:

  • Create first-of-a-kind sustainability outcomes and benefits for an asset.
  • Create learning opportunities for the construction industry.
  • Have the potential for widespread beneficial change in the construction industry.

The requirements for a successful application are set high. For this reason, many applications are not successful and do not pass the review process. Common reasons for unsuccessful applications are given in KBCN0482. However, failing to pass the review process is no reflection on the positive aspirations or efforts of project teams. Even if applications are unsuccessful and not eligible for an approved innovation credit, they can still realise beneficial outcomes for projects and the wider industry.

If you believe that a proposed innovation meets the principles above, please send us an application using the application form (BF1033).

The process and timescales for approved innovation applications are described in KBCN1398.

13-Feb-2024 - Updated to clarify definition and principles and incorporate information previously included in KBCN1399. Added links to relevant KBCNs.