Refurbishment and Fit Out / International / 2015 / 02 - Health and Wellbeing /

HEA 02 - Indoor Air Quality

Information correct as of 8thJuly 2020. Please see for the latest compliance information.

Absence of regulated/prohibited wood preservatives - KBCN0740

Preservatives (pentachlorophenol or PCP which is a “regulated/prohibited substance”) must be absent. This is defined when verified by testing that the concentration is less than 5ppm, in which instance the chemical is regarded as ‘absent’.

AgBB – earlier versions of the standard - KBCN0655

Guidance Note GN22 lists the standard AgBB (2015) as a recognised scheme for emissions from building products for pre-December 2015 launched BREEAM schemes. Previous versions of the AgBB scheme are not listed as recognised schemes because earlier versions of AgBB did not include any requirement for the testing of Formaldehyde. If an earlier version AgBB has been used, further evidence will be required to provide additional information on the required Formaldehyde testing.

Areas assessed for formaldehyde and TVOC - KBCN1008

This KBCN is no longer applicable. Please refer to KBCN0871 for scope of 'Emission levels (products)' and 'Other information' section of the technical manual for scope of 'Emission levels (post-construction)'. Superseded text: Products applied or installed in parts of the building likely to affect the indoor air quality and impact the wellbeing of building users need to be assessed. Areas are not excluded on the basis of how long building users are present in those areas.
27/02/2018 - KBCN N/A due to ambiguity of applicability to criteria

Exemplary level criteria – formaldehyde requirements applicability - KBCN1124

The exemplary level criteria for formaldehyde emission levels are not applicable to the following product types: A paints and varnishes G flooring adhesives H wall coverings Formaldehyde emission levels should be assessed on all other product types. This applies also to any approved alternative VOC schemes for these product types listed in GN22.

Fabric specified for wall coverings - KBCN0724

For assessment of Volatile Organic Compound emissions levels (products), any fabric specified as part of a wall covering should be assessed as part of the wall covering.  It should not be assessed as part of the 'resilient textile and laminated floor coverings'.

Formaldehyde / VOC levels exceed prescribed limits - KBCN0258

If the measured formaldehyde / VOC concentrations were above the prescribed limits, the appropriate remedial action must be taken, as described in the IAQ Plan. The criterion requires confirmation of 'the measures that have or will be undertaken' however it does not specifically address re-testing. We would expect, however that the IAQ Plan should outline what remedial measures are appropriate depending upon the severity and type of the non-compliance with prescribed limits. Such measures may include re-testing as a matter of 'best practice'. Where levels are found to exceed these limits, the project team confirms the measures that have, or will be undertaken in accordance with the IAQ plan, to reduce the TVOC and formaldehyde levels to within the above limits.

GN22 – Scheme version applicability - KBCN0646

Table 1 is for the use of any version of a scheme where the first version was released pre-December 2015, and table 2 is for the use of any version of a scheme where the first version was released post-November 2015.

GN22 Recognised schemes for emissions from building product - KBCN0719

Within the Health and Wellbeing category of a number of BREEAM schemes, credits are awarded for specifying materials that minimise emissions from building products, e.g. formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These criteria involve meeting emission level performance requirements in accordance with compliant performance and testing standards. Similar criteria have been included in the Home Quality Mark (HQM) scheme. The purpose of this Guidance Note is to publish a list of schemes that show equivalent or better performance than the current BREEAM and HQM criteria, and therefore can be used to demonstrate compliance with the criteria. This note should be read in conjunction with the relevant assessment issue guidance provided in the appropriate BREEAM scheme or HQM technical manual. View full Guidance Note (licensed assessors only) View all Guidance Notes (licensed assessors only)
12/03/2018 Link to Guidance Note updated
25/01/2019 Link to Guidance Note updated

Incomplete criteria – VOC emission levels - KBCN0442

The technical manual is missing the following requirement for the VOC emission levels for the product categories, which should follow the wording in criterion 8:

"At least five of the seven remaining product categories listed in Table 'VOC criteria by product type' meet the testing requirements and emission levels criteria for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions (listed in the table)."
To be amended in the technical manual re-issue.

Indoor air quality plan - KBCN0294

The Indoor Air Quality Plan does not have prescriptive criteria as it is recognised that each building will have differing conditions/user requirements. There is flexibility for the design team to use their professional judgement to determine what is appropriate to meet the criterion, subject to the plan addressing the relevant items as listed within the Technical Manual.

Industrial buildings – operational areas - KBCN1342

The aim of this issue is to encourage a healthy internal environment.  For the operational areas of industrial buildings, the internal environment is dictated by health and safety requirements.  This means that the BREEAM requirements should not be made applicable to them, and so the operational areas can be ignored in the assessment of Hea 02.

Natural Ventilation Heat Recovery Units - KBCN1126

Natural Ventilation Heat Recovery Units (NVHR) systems can be used to support a natural ventilation strategy where it can be demonstrated that openable windows provide sufficient fresh air to the building for the significant majority of the time that the space is occupied. The assessor will need to use their professional judgement to determine a 'significant majority of time' and be able to justify this within the assessment report.

Off-site manufactured installations – internal finishes - KBCN0137

Internal finishes in off-site manufactured installations such as lifts need to be assessed for the VOC criteria. The specification of internal finishes (regardless of whether they are installed on site or in the factory) will impact on VOC emissions. By specifying low VOC finishes, design teams will be encouraging manufacturers to consider the environmental impacts of their products.  

Paints for specialist applications - KBCN0872

Where a paint or coating does not fall within one of the categories in Annex II of the EU Directive 2004/42/CE or the categories in the relevant tables of the technical manuals (for schemes where the Directive is not applicable), then the paint or coating does not need to be assessed.
16/06/2017 KBCN extracted from existing KBCN0212.
13/03/2020 KBCN amended to clarify exceptions and applicability

Performance requirements to be met by finished product - KBCN0212

Decorative paints and varnishes that occupants are exposed to should be assessed. This is likely to include paints applied to walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc. It should be noted where finishes are applied to the product within the factory, these would be assessed as part of the whole product rather than as decorative paints and varnishes. The product as a whole must meet the requirements, for example if a wood panel has a finish applied to it in the factory, the whole product, i.e. all elements that make up that product, including the finish, would need comply with the requirements set for wood panel products in the issue. The finished product as a whole must meet the performance requirements/emission limits stipulated in the relevant BREEAM technical manual.
16/06/2017 Title and general principle amended to extend the applicability of the KBCN to all finishes. Paints specified for specialist applications covered in KBCN0872.

Potential for natural ventilation – areas exempted - KBCN0806

For projects where the majority of a building's occupied spaces will meet the criteria to achieve the potential for natural ventilation credit, but a relatively small area will not comply due to functional requirements of the space, (e.g. a lecture theatre), the credit can be awarded where this approach can be justified. The intention is to encourage the design of buildings where a strategy of (potential for) natural ventilation has been implemented as far as practically possible, given functional constraints. 

Potential for natural ventilation – shell only assessments - KBCN0408

Where compliance depends on a speculative layout which is unknown, it is the responsibility of the design team to demonstrate that it is feasible for a future tenant to achieve compliance in the relevant areas via the use of a notional layout. This ensures that the shell allows the potential for compliance, and if this can be demonstrated the credit may be awarded.  

Potential for natural ventilation – use of doors to comply - KBCN0690

External doors cannot generally be considered for the natural ventilation strategy, due to issues of controllability of ventilation.  However, where the assessor believes and can robustly justify that the requirement for 'levels of ventilation’, referenced below, are met and that the use of the door for natural ventilation purposes would not create accessibility and/or security issues in the day-to-day use of the building, this may be acceptable. The two levels of ventilation must be able to achieve the following: • Higher level: higher rates of ventilation achievable to remove short term odours and/or prevent summertime overheating • Lower level: adequate levels of draught-free fresh air to meet the need for good indoor air quality throughout the year, sufficient for the occupancy load and the internal pollution loads of the space.  

Products tested to BS EN ISO 12460-5 standard - KBCN0118

Products tested to the BS EN ISO 12460-5 standard can be used to demonstrate compliance for the BREEAM VOC criteria, but only for wood panels and suspended ceiling tiles made from unfaced particle board, unfaced OSB or unfaced MDF. In such cases, factory production control testing must demonstrate that the product has a formaldehyde content of ≤ 8mg/100g oven dry board.
01/12/2017 Previously referenced standard EN 120 superceded by BS EN ISO 12460-5 Wood-based panels. Determination of formaldehyde release. Extraction method.

Retail with no office areas - KBCN0531

The compliance note regarding industrial and retail areas incorrectly suggests that the minimising sources of air pollution credits are not applicable to retail areas with no associated offices. These credits do apply to retail sales areas, although they are excluded for operational areas in industrial buildings. The 'potential for natural ventilation' credit is not applicable for retail sales areas, as it applies only to office areas. Therefore, where a retail building does not contain any office, this credit is not applicable. Whilst the requirements apply to permanently or semi-permanently occupied offices, small admin areas, which are used only occasionally, can be excluded. This also applies to shell only and shell and core new build projects, where it can be demonstrated that no office spaces will be provided as part of the fit-out. The online tool will award the credit by default in both issue 1.0 of the INC 2016 scheme and up to issue 1.4 of the IRFO 2015 scheme. When assessing against INC 2016 2.0, the online tool will instead filter this credit out.
11/09/2018 Clarification added in relation to spaces that are used occasionally, and shell only/shell and core new build projects.

15/09/2017 Clarification added on the procedure for making the 'potential for natural ventilation' credit N/A on the online tool.
Technical manual to be updated accordingly in next re-issue.

Scope of product assessment for VOCs - KBCN0871

For the purpose of this Issue, this covers any product installed or applied inside of the inner surface of the building’s infiltration, vapour or waterproof membrane or, where not present, inside of the inner surface of the building envelope’s interior facing thermal insulation layer. Only products that are installed or applied in parts of the building where their emissions are likely to affect indoor air quality need to be assessed.

Testing laboratory certification - KBCN1337

Where an organisation used for sampling and analysis of indoor air or for analysis of emissions from building products is not accredited to ISO / IEC 17025, the organisation must be accredited either by a national accreditation body, or by a member of any one of the following accreditation groups: European Cooperation for Accreditation International Accreditation Forum International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation The accreditation must specifically covering sampling and analysis of indoor air or analysis of emissions from building products.

Thermal modelling – full dynamic thermal analysis - KBCN1250

The software used to carry out the thermal modelling simulation at the detailed design stage needs to provide full dynamic analysis. For smaller and more basic building designs with less complex heating/cooling systems, an alternative less complex means of analysis may be appropriate. Further guidance on thermal modelling can be found in CIBSE AM11 Building energy and environmental modelling.

Ventilation – E-cigarettes - KBCN1014

The use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers is considered equivalent to smoking. A smoking ban must also include a ban on e-cigarettes and vaporizers.  

Ventilation – Withdrawal of EN 13779:2007 - KBCN1054

Standard EN 13779:2007 has been withdrawn (01/02/2018) and in its place the following should be used: Non-residential buildings: Both standards provide three methods for selecting design ventilation rates: Dwellings (only applicable to the BREEAM International New Construction scheme): Both standards provide different options for selecting design ventilation rates: It is the design team’s responsibility to determine and apply the most appropriate method or option(s) for the project undergoing assessment. Existing projects can continue to use EN 13779:2007 where applicable. Any new assessment registrations should use the replacements above.
2019.09.01 - KBCN updated to reference new standard
2020.01.10 - KBCN updated to clarify methods for complying with new standards
2010.05.03 - Typo corrected to clarify that 'EN 16798-1:2019 Annex B.3 'either Category I OR Category II default design values' are to be used

Ventilation credit – Suitable filtration - KBCN0797

The ventilation rates stated in the ASWL for non-domestic buildings (i.e. 10 l/s/person for non-smoking areas, 20 l/s/person for smoking areas) equate to an EN 13779 indoor air category of IDA2. Therefore, the filter selection needs to be based on IDA2 as a minimum. Annex A.3 of EN 13779 sets out the methodology for determining the filter class required based on the IDA category and the quality of outdoor air (classified ODA1-ODA3 – 3 representing the most polluted air). The classification of outdoor air (ODA) is also detailed in EN 13779.  

Ventilation credit for Part 1 assessments - KBCN0974

The Ventilation credit is applicable to Part 1 assessments because there may be instances where the decisions made for the fabric and structure can have an impact on the ventilation strategy. For example, if a natural ventilation strategy is to be used, the criteria related to ventilation standards and the distance between openable windows and sources of external pollution would be relevant.  

VOC emission levels (products) exemplary level criteria - KBCN0636

Where a project has not specified all the product categories of Hea 02, all products that have been specified must meet the testing requirements and emission levels criteria for Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions, as outlined within the relevant table.  

VOC emission levels – products with no formaldehyde-containing materials - KBCN1137

Where a product manufacturer’s declaration confirms that a product contains no formaldehyde, this can be used to demonstrate compliance with both the standard and exemplary level criteria. However, where a manufacturer has made a declaration of formaldehyde class E1 without testing, this can only be used to demonstrate compliance with the standard criteria. An E1 declaration only confirms that emissions of formaldehyde are ≤0.12 mg/m3, so this would not be valid evidence to demonstrate compliance with the exemplary level criteria emission limits. As such, the manufacturer would need to provide additional information (e.g. test report) to show that emissions from the product meet the relevant exemplary level emission limit.

VOC product types – other - KBCN0698

Where a product does not appear to fit into any of the defined VOC product types listed in the manual this does not mean it is automatically exempt from being assessed. If it is similar to one of the listed product types and clearly could have an impact on VOC levels it should normally be assessed. In such cases the supplier/manufacturer should seek to demonstrate that their product meets the equivalent standards required for the closest matching product type.

VOC testing – alternative methods for compliance for paints and varnishes - KBCN0492

Manufacturers' calculations of VOC content, based on the constituent ingredients, can be used to demonstrate compliance with the testing requirement for paints and varnishes instead of ISO 11890-2:2013.

VOCs of Resin flooring products - KBCN0980

For the purposes of assessing the volatile organic compound emission levels of products, BREEAM considers resin flooring products such as epoxy floor coating, to fall within the scope of a ‘resilient floor covering’.

VOCs post-completion testing and KPI - KBCN0380

When testing for VOCs post-completion and pre-occupancy, a representative sample of the building needs to be carried out. Each sample TVOC and formaldehyde measurement needs to achieve the threshold levels individually, either in the initial testing or after remedial measures have been implemented. This ensures that all tested areas of the building are below the limits, and that areas of non-compliance are not ‘averaged out’. 'When providing KPI test results for air quality post-construction / pre-occupancy within scoring and reporting tool, where the limits are exceeded and remediation and re-testing are carried out, the figure should be an average for the whole building post-remediation, as this is the key figure that reflects the building at its certified state'. Where testing is not a requirement of the IAQ Plan and this is not carried out, the original testing figures should be entered and the assessment report should provide details of the remediation measures undertaken to reduce these to within the prescribed limits.
06/12/17 Amended to account for situations where re-testing is not required by the IAQ Plan.

Information correct as of 8thJuly 2020. Please see for the latest compliance information.