New Construction / International / 2016 /

08 - Land use and ecology

Information correct as of 11thApril 2021. Please see for the latest compliance information.

Aircraft safety – developments in the proximity of airports - KBCN0912

Where it can be demonstrated that an assessed development, within or adjacent to an airport or similar, must restrict the ecological value of the site for reasons of aircraft safety (mitigating the risk of bird-strikes to meet local or national regulations), the approach for some issues in the Land Use and Ecology category can be adjusted. If in these circumstances, the client wishes to enhance ecological value on an external site, outside of the main development site, this can be considered in the following way for each issue: Site selection: The development site only must be assessed. Ecological value of site and protection of ecological features: The development site only must be assessed, but the recommendations may be tailored to suit the requirements of the relevant legislation. Enhancing site ecology: The development site and the external site must be included in the SQE’s report and recommendations, albeit that, for the development site, the approach may to be to restrict biodiversity. Enhancements implemented in-line with the recommendations of the SQE are likely to apply to the external site. Long term impact on biodiversity: Both sites must be considered in the SQE’s report to meet the prerequisite/first credit as applicable, albeit that, for the development site, the approach may to be to restrict biodiversity. Further credits in relation to improving and maintaining the site’s long-term biodiversity can be awarded on the basis of adopting these for the external site only, in line with the guidance.

Contaminated Land- Presence of radon gas - KBCN0155

Naturally occurring radon is not considered as contamination in relation to BREEAM. However, where radioactive substances have been introduced as a consequence of human activities, that land would then be considered to be ‘contaminated with radioactivity’ and remediation of such contamination would fall under the scope of the relevant BREEAM issue.

Ecological enhancements – large mixed use/multi-building developments - KBCN0588

At the Post Construction stage of assessment, for large mixed use/multi-building developments, where the whole site has not been completed and ecological enhancements have not yet been added, or where features are being added at a later date in an appropriate planting season: evidence from the client or principal contractor confirming planting will be completed within 18 months from completion of the development is acceptable.

Ecological value – timing of planting - KBCN0479

Where the 18 month deadline for the completion of the planting is likely to be exceeded due to the timing or phasing of the construction, the project team will need to clearly justify the reason for this variation, and provide a written commitment to carry out the planting within a reasonable and justifiable timescale.

GN13 Relating ecologist’s report and BREEAM - KBCN0626

Introduction This guidance note is to be used for registered BREEAM UK New Construction 2014 and RFO 2014 and International New Construction 2016 and RFO 2015 assessments, where an ecologist has been appointed by the client and has produced an ecology report for the proposed development. The purpose of this guidance note is to help the BREEAM Assessor relate the content of the ecologist’s report to the BREEAM Land Use and Ecology section criteria (assessment issues LE 02, LE 03 (UK only), LE 04 and LE 05). The guidance within this document has been produced to support the assessment of the aforementioned BREEAM issues and should not be interpreted as criteria. If the BREEAM Assessor chooses to use the template provided within this guidance note as evidence in the assessment (use of this document is optional) the assessor or the appointed suitably qualified ecologist must complete all relevant sections View full Guidance Note (licensed assessors only) View all Guidance Notes (licensed assessors only)
01/04/2020 Clarified applicability to UK RFO 2014 and International RFO 2015 schemes

Habitat management plan – Level of detail required - KBCN0132

The level of detail required in the landscape and habitat management plan needs to be commensurate with the complexity and extent of the landscaped areas. If there is a limited amount of landscaping, then a simple plan would be acceptable, commensurate with the significance of the area assessed. Where the suitably qualified ecologist, appointed prior to commencement of activities on site, confirms that a landscaping and habitat management plan is not applicable due to the nature of the site and its surroundings, such as being nearly all or entirely hardstanding or having little or no external space, then full credits can be awarded for demonstrating that the relevant legislation has been followed.

International suitably qualified professionals - KBCN1266

In some issues the International NC and RFO schemes prescribe specific requirements for suitably qualified professionals. We appreciate that some countries might have different recognition schemes in place, and these might differ from the BREEAM requirements. Where this is the case, assessors should submit a technical query with appropriate information, and we will review and approve each situation on a country basis.

Land reclaimed from the sea - KBCN0558

Land reclaimed from the sea cannot be considered as previously developed land. It has not been occupied by a permanent structure and any associated fixed surface infrastructure (please refer to the Additional information section).

Landscape and Habitat Management Plan – SQE involvement - KBCN0564

Even if not stated explicitly, it is implied and expected that the Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE) does verify the content of the Landscape and Habitat Management Plan to ensure that it is consistent with the whole site ecological strategy.  

Late appointment of the Suitably Qualified Ecologist - KBCN0603

If the Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE) is appointed after the commencement of activities on-site and if the other requirements of this issue are met, then credits can still be awarded, provided that:

Late confirmation of site boundary - KBCN0307

The ecologist must be appointed and engaged early on (equivalent RIBA Stage 1) so that they are able to inform the design brief. For projects where the site boundary is only confirmed at the next design stage (equivalent RIBA Stage 2), it would be acceptable to delay the full ecology survey until this time. In these circumstances, the ecologist's input at design brief may be based on a desk study or initial viewing of the site and its potential boundaries. The aim of early engagement with an ecologist is to facilitate and maximise potential ecological enhancement, exact boundary definition does not negate this.

Measures for protecting features of ecological value - KBCN0583

Where the actions outlined in CN 'Protecting features of ecological value' are deemed not appropriate for a particular site, by a suitably qualified ecologist (SQE), it would be acceptable for alternative means of protection to be used where recommended by an SQE. Where alternative approaches are being used, the assessor must ensure that adequate evidence is collated to demonstrate the ecologists recommendations have been implemented, this should include clear photographic evidence of the solution implemented. This is to ensure that professional expertise is applied to appropriately address specific scenarios.

Off-site ecological enhancement - KBCN0651

BREEAM does not recognise enhancements which are not within the boundary of the site being assessed, as the aims of the land use and ecology section relate to the ecological value and biodiversity of the specific site under assessment. However, off-site ecological enhancement can be accepted where: Full justification and robust evidence must be submitted when relying on this approach. BREEAM recognises that the red-line boundary drafted for planning purposes may not reflect the entire site within the control of the developer or building owner.

Previously developed land – temporary structures - KBCN0659

The presence of concrete and hardstanding areas established as temporary structures for enabling works are not considered to be previously developed land on a site. The nature of enabling works are temporary; with the purpose of enabling the delivery of a development and are not constructed to be permanent. Temporary structures of this kind are not included in the definition of previously developed land no matter how long they have been present on a site.

Previously occupied land – Fixed surface infrastructure - KBCN1140

Car parks and other hard-landscaped areas often incorporate small pockets of soft landscaping. Where these are integral to the hard landscaping and constitute a small proportion of the total area, these areas can be considered as part of the fixed surface infrastructure.

Risk to Ecologist’s safety - KBCN0704

In some situations a significant safety risk may prevent a suitably qualified ecologist from attending the site to undertake a site survey. In these cases a desktop study can be used to demonstrate compliance, where the ecologist confirms that it is an acceptably robust substitute. In these cases, the assessor must provide evidence to confirm the type of significant safety risk present.  

Shared ecological enhancements - KBCN0656

A site-wide approach to ecological enhancements can be used on sites where multiple buildings share areas of soft landscaping. The enhancement benefits are applied to the individual building assessments within the site. Similarly, where a building comprises more than one assessment, eg different floor assessments, a green roof on top of that building can be used to award credits for each assessment for which the Land use and ecology issues apply. The benefit can be applied on a site-wide basis provided all developments are completed within the appropriate timeframe of a valid ecological survey.    

Sites with multiple assessed buildings - KBCN0920

For sites with multiple assessed buildings, where it proves difficult to clearly define separate construction zones for each building, the assessment of this Issue can be done on a site-wide basis where the boundary of the construction zone is considered to be the whole site. Similarly, when it is difficult to define the proposed development footprint for each assessment, the issue can be assessed on a site-wide basis. This can be applied to each BREEAM assessment.

Temporary ecological enhancements prior to development - KBCN00065

Where a site has been acquired but development is not scheduled to start immediately, it is possible to determine the baseline ecological value of the site at this point. Furthermore, to recognise where positive measures to enhance ecology have been taken to manage the site until development starts, these enhancement measures will not impact on the baseline value for the purposes of the BREEAM assessment, provided that the following have been met: Clarification: This guidance is currently under development. Please contact BRE Global with specific project details for confirmation of whether this approach may be used. The aim of these issues is to demonstrate the impact that a project has had on the site ecology, but comparing the site pre and post development. BREEAM does not want to penalise sites that have put in temporary ecological enhancements that enhance the ecology while waiting for development to begin.

Timing of Ecological survey/report - KBCN0292

If the ecologist's site survey and/or report is completed at a later stage than required, the assessor would need to be satisfied that it was produced early enough for the recommendations to influence the Concept Design/design brief stage and leads to a positive outcome in terms of protection and enhancement of site ecology.
21/02/2017 Wording clarified.

Unexploded ordnance - KBCN0775

Unexploded ordnance can be defined as a contaminant as they are objects which can be classed as a hazard to health and/or the environment.  Therefore, if the contaminated land specialist confirms that leaving the ordinance on the site would lead to a serious risk to human health and the environment, the site can be defined as “contaminated land” (please see the definition within the 'additional information' section of the manual). However, the credit can only be awarded where all criteria have been met, and therefore the site investigation, risk assessment and appraisal must determine that the site is “significantly contaminated” i.e. without remediation, development of the site is not possible. Also, it should be noted that decontamination needs to occur specifically for the purpose of re-development of the site, as detailed in the compliance notes “Prior Decontamination” and “Health and Safety related decontamination.”
Information correct as of 11thApril 2021. Please see for the latest compliance information.