Scheme classification for residential projects (UK)

Choosing the right scheme for developments is the starting point to ensure successful outcomes and value, in terms of quality and sustainability to building owners and for occupants of the building.

In light of the release of Home Quality Mark (HQM) ONE we have reviewed the existing guidance around scheme classifications of new build residential buildings and have removed ‘GN03 – Scheme Classification – Domestic buildings’ from BREEAM Projects.

When GN03 was written, the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) did not fully consider communal areas within residential blocks as part of the assessment. CSH was also not applicable in Scotland. GN03 was developed to clarify the differences between BREEAM Multi-Residential, CSH and EcoHomes, and when each scheme should be applied.

There is now a clearer distinction between BREEAM Multi-residential and HQM and when these should be used. Ultimately, the determining factor for a scheme classification is now focused on the intent of the building and who is going to be the end user (as opposed to previous guidance which considered aspects such as percentage of communal areas, etc.). Broadly, if the building’s main purpose is for long term homes then Home Quality Mark is the correct scheme to use.

Please use the following as guidance to identify the most appropriate scheme:

Home Quality Mark (HQM)

HQM has been designed with the occupant in mind. It assesses homes individually, but can also account for common areas associated with blocks of self-contained homes. HQM outputs (rating and indicators e.g. ‘my cost’, ‘my wellbeing’ and ‘my footprint’) are specifically aimed at those living in the home and are designed to better inform the occupant about the benefits of the home that they are purchasing or renting.

An HQM project will meet one or more of the following criteria:

Be designed to meet the function of a long-term self-contained home even though there may be some provision of communal facilities which can be used on a voluntary basis
Be classified under Building regulations Part L1a (i.e. required to complete SAP assessments, although there may be some linked SBEM assessed spaces associated with the project)
As such, HQM projects could be homes for sale, social housing or homes for rent (PRS and Built to Rent). They may also include some student and retirement/sheltered accommodation where the units are comparable to a normal self-contained flat/home.

BREEAM Multi-residential

For the purposes of BREEAM Multi-residential assessments, the term ‘multi-residential’ is used in the context of buildings that contain rooms for residential purposes alongside communal facilities for catering, leisure, care etc. These residential rooms would normally not have the full, self-contained functions of a home. This scheme usually covers more specialist residential care homes, student halls of residence, and other more communal accommodation. The scheme can cater for a small number of self-contained dwellings where these form part of a larger multi-residential development (e.g. on-site warden homes etc.). Under this scheme, the project is assessed on a whole building basis and as such does not seek to reflect the performance of individual residential units/rooms.

A BREEAM Multi-residential project will meet one or more of the following criteria:

Be provided for transient /non-permanent occupants
Provide suitable accommodation for occupants requiring support from carers, wardens or similar
Include shared living spaces
Be classified under Building regulations Part L2a (i.e. required to complete SBEM assessments, but can account for some SAP assessed spaces where associated with the project)
As a rule of thumb, if the building contains rooms rather than self-contained flats or homes, a BREEAM Multi-residential assessment would probably be most appropriate. We are aware of some confusion over the meaning of the term ‘multi-residential’ in this context and will be considering the use of term as part of the next review of the BREEAM Multi-Residential scheme.

If you are unsure of the appropriate scheme classification for a particular project, please contact the BREEAM office before registering the project.