3 General Technical /
Information correct as of 16thAugust 2022. Please see kb.breeam.com for the latest compliance information.
Assessment of multi-phase projects - KBCN0432
Where a project will be designed and built in two or more phases, the following rule should be applied:
If there is enough information on multiple phases to enable the design stage assessment to be carried out at the same time, it is possible to assess these phases at the design stage in one assessment. At this point you have a choice - either wait for those phases to be constructed before doing one post-construction assessment for the whole project, or do a post-construction stage assessment for each phase.
Please note that if you do separate post-construction stage assessments (PCRs), this will require your original registration to be split into the number of phases. A new registration fee applies for any additional registrations, and an additional certification fee will also apply for any additional post-construction stage certificates.
18/10/2016: edited to remove the condition for overlapping phases
Certificate validity – EMS - KBCN1401
The requirement for the principal contractor to operate an EMS relates to the duration of operations on site. Certification against ISO 14001/EMAS must be valid at the Design Stage and Post Construction Stage submissions and cannot be expired, pending or applied retrospectively.
07/05/2021: Clarification on Design and Post Construction Stage added
Compliance: Applicability of criteria to subsequent schemes’ versions - KBCN0554
When assessing a project under a certain scheme, criteria or compliance notes from a previous scheme cannot be used to demonstrate compliance.
Compliance: Applicability of criteria to scheme’s previous versions - KBCN0430
Criteria set for a scheme version are not applicable retrospectively to previous versions.
Confirmation of version / year of technical standards - KBCN0519
When providing evidence of compliance it is important for design teams to clearly refer to the version and / or year of the standard being complied with for an assessment.
The issue / release / adoption of standards sets the requirements appropriate at the time of publication of the BREEAM scheme documentation. A standard may be updated in between BREEAM re-issues and updates so the standard cited in the requirements or the most current version of a standard can be applied. This applies to standards such as National (e.g. British) Standards, HTM documents, Environment Agency and Policy Planning Guidelines etc.
Where the current version of the standard differs notably from the cited standard in the manual, it is the role of the assessor or design team to verify that it is equivalent or more robust than the original requirement.
Evidence failing to demonstrate this will be result in raising of a non-conformance within QA and will delay certification.
KBCN0747 Equivalent standard use
23/08/17 Merged with “Superseded standards and evidence referenced” KBCN0453
COVID-19 Bulletin 1: Alterations to BREEAM assessment requirements as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic - KBCN1395
We appreciate that, during this challenging period, complete adherence to all our standard operating and assessment requirements may not be possible.
Following our initial guidance on March the 19th, this Bulletin aims to assist assessors, and our wider stakeholders, with continuing to conduct assessments in a robust manner whilst also taking a practical view in light of the COVID-19 global crisis and its impacts on many territories.
It may be necessary for us to update this guidance as circumstances change. We will inform assessors via the process note as and when such updates are made however please do check back prior to nearing the submission of an assessment to ensure that you are following the most current guidance.
Readers are also advised that this guidance is only applicable in situations where social distancing rules relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are in place and must be implemented in line with the prevailing government/relevant authority advice on social distancing, and health and safety.
- Submitting assessments and certification:
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic currently varies between geographic regions and territories, assessors should provide an account of the particular circumstances of the place and nature of the assessment within their report.
Provided assessors follow all relevant guidance outlined in this Bulletin as a means of demonstrating compliance in as robust and thorough a manner possible, Interim and Final Certificates will be issued as normal, without a caveat.
- Gathering evidence for site assessments:
The status of construction, and other sites is variable; some are dormant, others active and operational with some cases of priority works and completions still taking place. Furthermore, some stakeholders may be having to self-isolate during a critical point of the assessment. As such, it may be difficult, or impossible, for assessors to gain full access to conduct a site assessment.
In cases where an assessor cannot personally visit or gain access to the site, they can appoint a suitable individual, for example a main contractor or asset manager, to undertake a formal site assessment on their behalf.
The appointed individual would be expected to provide a robust account to the assessor of evidence in place of their own site assessment report. We would expect the report to contain photographs and/or virtual tour stills from the building and be signed off by both the appointed individual and assessor.
For those assessment issues relating to external spaces beyond the site, we will accept stills/images from Google Street View (or equivalent), provided it is demonstrated that such evidence is current.
Where the above options are not possible, for example when the site has been closed, for HQM, BREEAM New Construction and Refurbishment schemes, in place of a site assessment report, we will accept ‘as built drawings’ and written confirmation from the design team and main contractors that the requirements have been met. This confirmation should be specific and adhere to other evidence requirement principles.
- BREEAM in Use re-certification:
If a site assessment is not possible, either for the assessor or a suitable individual, desk-based evidence will be accepted for the purposes of BIU re-certification where:
- evidence demonstrates that the criteria are being met as far as possible without a site assessment.
- there is a firm commitment for a follow-up site inspection to be carried out when it is safe to do so, in line with local government guidance on COVID-19.
- Timing of workshops, testing and other subsidiary evidence submissions:
Given the widespread availability of remote communication technologies, it is generally possible to undertake the majority of activities relating to our assessment criteria without the need for face-to-face contact or site assessments.
However, we appreciate that this won’t be the case in all instances and that some projects may be experiencing delays in some areas whilst other aspects may still be moving forward. Development and improvements are rarely linear at the best of times.
With respect to workshops, the key consideration is that they take place at a time when they have a meaningful impact and achieve the aim of the criteria. BREEAM New Construction and RFO schemes typically set timelines based on the RIBA Work Stages. Evidence of remote workshops taking place outside of the prescribed timescales will be accepted provided it can be demonstrated that the aim of the issue is still achieved.
With respect to indoor air quality testing, where possible, the construction programme should allow time for the indoor air quality testing to be undertaken post-construction/pre-occupancy, in line with the BREEAM criteria. However, where it can be demonstrated that this is not possible, due to restrictions relating to COVID-19, it is permissible to undertake the indoor air quality testing post-occupancy, as follows:
- In order to demonstrate compliance, the results must still meet the BREEAM performance targets set for post-construction/pre-occupancy testing.
- Where certification is sought prior to testing, robust evidence that this will be undertaken as early as possible and any defects remedied to achieve compliance must be provided.
- Projects following this approach do so at their own risk and on the understanding that the performance targets may not be achieved due to factors relating to occupancy. As such, additional remediation measures may be required to achieve compliance.
- In this situation, the advice of the Indoor Air Quality Consultant should be sought and followed.
With respect to subsidiary, third party assessments such as ecological site inspections or audits, desktop surveys based on available information (e.g. planning surveys, agent’s reports, photographs, Google Earth), can be used as an alternative provided there is enough material for a confident recommendation and/or outcome to be achieved.
If the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted prior to Final Certification and it is safe to do so, this must then be followed by a site inspection/audit to verify any assumptions made and gather any missing survey information. The desktop survey and site report should then be submitted as evidence.
Third party consultants should also work in line with any health and safety guidance issued by relevant professional bodies.
We hope that you find this helpful. It is intended as general guidance, however if assessors encounter situations which differ substantially and/or are unsure how/whether this guidance is applicable, please seek advice from BREEAM by submitting a query on the webform
EPDs’ validity - KBCN0798
EPDs which have expired or are pending verification at the time the relevant product was specified, cannot contribute to awarding credits. However, it is not necessary that they are valid at the time of the design or post-construction stage submissions.
BREEAM is primarily trying to encourage designers to take EPDs into consideration when specifying products.
04/11/2019 Confirmed applicability to UK NC2018
27/03/2020 Added applicability to Green Guide ratings and ISO 14001 certificates
27/05/2020 Reference to ISO 14001 removed - Whilst the same principle applies, the wording relating to product specification does not - See KBCN1401.
12/08/2021 Clarification regarding the validity of EPDs during QA submission and removal of reference to Green Guide ratings
Equivalent standard use - KBCN0747
Reference to 'an equivalent standard' in the criteria ensures there is flexibility for different or newer standards to be used to demonstrate compliance. The 'equivalent standard' needs to address the requirements of the referenced standard and be demonstrably equivalent or more robust. It is the role of the assessor or design team to verify this.
Different, new or other standards may be used if these achieve the aim of the referenced standards within the criteria. They could potentially be those published or only available after the launch of a scheme.
Evidence: Types of evidence required to demonstrate compliance with BREEAM - KBCN0402
The list of evidence details the typical types of information that the Assessor needs to collate to assess compliance against the requirements of a BREEAM issue. The evidence type listed against each requirement is not exclusive and other types and forms of evidence (listed or not listed in the table) can be used to demonstrate compliance against a BREEAM requirement.
Key to demonstrating compliance with the BREEAM requirements is that the Assessor has used, and references, an auditable trail of evidence, regardless of the form that evidence takes in relation to each BREEAM requirement. For example: if, for a particular BREEAM requirement, the list asks for a letter from the client confirming compliance, but compliance can or has been demonstrated via a building specification then the Assessor can reference that piece of evidence as demonstrating compliance and does not need a letter. However, the Assessor must confirm acceptance by the Technical team in advance of the certificate submission to avoid findings being raised in the Quality Assurance process.
Please note that the BREEAM team is unable to advise Assessors whether a particular piece of evidence demonstrates compliance as this is the Assessor’s responsibility. The BREEAM team will not fail the QA of a certification report on the basis that evidence referenced in the report, confirming compliance with the assessment criteria, is not an identical type to that outlined in the schedule of evidence. For further information please refer to the ‘BREEAM evidence requirements’ section or ‘Appendices’ section in the relevant Technical Manual.
Gross Internal Floor Area (GIFA) or gross internal area (GIA) - KBCN1062
In general terms, this is the total area enclosed by the external walls of a building, measured to the internal face of those walls and taking into account every floor in the building.
This is comprehensively defined in the Code of Measuring Practice
, published by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors:
03 Aug 2022 Link updated
Laboratory containment level category definitions - KBCN0943
BRE does not designate or define containment levels for laboratories. The categories listed in the manuals are based on industry standard definitions.
For further information, please refer to HSE/COSHH or DEFRA definitions, depending upon the hazard type.
Laboratory containment levels - KBCN0903
BRE does not designate or define containment levels for laboratories. These are industry standard definitions.
This research should be carried out by the assessor or an appropriate member of the design team. A good starting point would be HSE/COSHH or DEFRA depending upon the hazard type.
Process: Project team member no longer operational - KBCN0590
In situations where a member of the project team is no longer operational, for example where a company has gone in to liquidation or administration, and the assessor is unable to obtain the required evidence to meet the requirements of BREEAM schemes and HQM, any credits affected must be withheld.
Whilst BRE appreciate and sympathise with the circumstances surrounding these types of situations, BREEAM schemes and HQM rely upon an auditable trail of evidence with which to award credits. This trail of evidence is used to demonstrate how criteria have been met. BREEAM standards and HQM must be applied consistently to all developments undertaking assessment to ensure that certificates issued provide an accurate and consistent representation of the level achieved.
If the necessary evidence cannot be presented and the assessor deems it insufficient to demonstrate compliance in accordance with the schedule of evidence then credits should not be awarded.
Retail/Industrial Showrooms Appendix - KBCN1115
This Criteria Appendix has been developed for developments such as car showrooms which incorporate both retail and industrial areas. The appendix clarifies, for specific BREEAM issues, which criteria are applicable to each area of the assessment. This should be read in conjunction with the relevant scheme version of the BREEAM UK technical manual. This is applicable to BREEAM UK New Construction 2014 and 2018 and BREEAM UK RFO 2014.
Such assessments should be registered against the 'Retail' building type and the Appendix will soon be available for download in the guidance for 'Retail' assessments for each relevant scheme on BREEAM Projects.
In the meantime, the Criteria Appendix can be requested by emailing [email protected]
22/05/2018 The title of this appendix has been changed and additional information provided. This includes removal of the specific reference to 'Car Showrooms' in order to clarify that this approach can be applied to other similar retail developments, which include industrial servicing areas.
Scheme classification queries - KBCN0540
As the Operational Guidance clarifies ‘…A scheme classification requires the assessor, client or design team to submit floor plans showing the layout of the building(s) along with its intended functional areas and any other relevant information. BRE Global will then confirm the appropriate means of assessing the development, using either one or more standard schemes or by developing project-specific bespoke criteria…’
BREEAM Technical cannot definitively confirm a scheme classification in the absence of drawings.
Relevant information could also include specification of the scope of works, clarification of general building functions, spaces within them, as well as their management and access to the public.
Scheme update frequency - KBCN0745
BREEAM schemes are updated on average every three years. This should allow sufficient time for Assessors to process, and become familiar with, the updated scheme content, which we try to evolve rather than completely overhaul to limit the impact and burden of change on clients and assessors. The timescales for an update and release of a new scheme version is normally driven by factors such as changes in best practice, regulation and alignment across schemes. It allows rationalisation of technical FAQs and Compliance Notes so reducing complexity for assessors.
Time critical BREEAM requirements – reference to RIBA (or equivalent) work stages - KBCN1156
As a building design process passes through successive work stages, increasingly more aspects of the design become fixed. BREEAM criteria often require actions at, before or after specific project work stages, as these are the optimal stages to achieve the required sustainability outcome. When undertaken at a different stage, the criteria may be difficult to comply with, opportunities may be missed, options limited or costs may become prohibitive.
Knowing which stage your project is at
Where possible, BREEAM refers to industry-standard work stages, for example the RIBA plan of work stages. However different project teams can interpret these referenced stages differently.
Furthermore, many projects do not follow these stages in a simple linear fashion for all aspects of the design at the same time. For instance, the envelope design may be well advanced even to the point where installation has commenced before any specification decisions have been made on some interior finishes. As such, a project may not be at one project stage for all elements of the design at any one point in time.
This Knowledge Base compliance note is intended to provide supplementary information to enable projects to determine what stage they are at with respect to time critical BREEAM requirements, including where different elements are at different stages. Although project team members may be willing to offer their opinion on the stage the project has reached, this will often be subjective and hence inconsistent. Therefore, the process set out here looks at the currently available design information for the project (e.g. drawings, specifications) to determine the current work stage in relation to the issue under consideration. This provides a more objective, demonstrable approach for the assessor to follow.
Concept Design Stage
The RIBA definition of ‘Concept Design’ (RIBA stage 2) can be found here https://www.ribaplanofwork.com/PlanOfWork.aspx
. The core objective given is ‘Prepare Concept Design, including outline proposals for structural design, building services systems, outline specifications and preliminary Cost Information along with relevant Project Strategies in accordance with Design Programme. Agree alterations to brief and issue Final Project Brief.’
Table 1 and table 2 (in the link below) provide further guidance, specific to BREEAM, to help determine whether a project, or part of the project relevant to the issue/credit, is at ‘Concept Design’ stage. If there is ambiguity or uncertainty about the stage of the project, the assessor should check with the design team whether the design documentation (drawings, specifications, BIM etc.) currently being produced
by the design team will generally include the information listed.
It is possible for different aspects of the project to be at different stages in terms of how progressed the design is. For example, the substructure design may be at technical design or even installed while the internal partitions are still at concept design. Whether this matters depends on the issue/credit being pursued. The following steps take this into account.
First, for the issue/credit being pursued, determine which of the relevant assessment scope items in table 1 and 2 are relevant. For example, if the issue/credit only relates to substructure, then only the substructure assessment scope items shall be considered. If the issue/credit is of a general nature concerning the whole project, then all the assessment scope items shall be considered.
For the relevant assessment scope items from step 1, decide which of the following applies the most: -
- Where the items listed are in the process of being included in the design documentation, this indicates that the project, or part of the project being considered, is likely to be at the ‘Concept Design’ stage.
- If items listed are not in the process of being included, the project, or part of the project being considered, is likely to be at an earlier stage.
- If the existing design documentation already includes the items listed the project, or part of the project being considered, is likely to be at a later stage.
Please note that the items listed are indicative of the typical information produced at ‘Concept Design’ stage.
Technical Design Stage
The RIBA definition of ‘Technical Design’ (RIBA stage 4) can be found here https://www.ribaplanofwork.com/PlanOfWork.aspx . The core objective provided is ‘Prepare Technical Design in accordance with Design Responsibility Matrix and Project Strategies to include all architectural, structural and building services information, specialist subcontractor design and specifications, in accordance with Design Programme.
The following provides further guidance, specific to BREEAM, to determine whether a project is at the ‘Technical Design’ stage: The RIBA plan of work definition of ‘Technical Design’ clearly states that it should ‘…include all architectural, structural and building services information, specialist subcontractor design and specifications…
’. Therefore, it is a simpler task to determine whether the project, or part of the project relevant to the issue/credit, is at this stage. If there is ambiguity or uncertainty about the stage of the project, the assessor should check with the design team whether the design documentation (drawings, specifications, BIM etc.) currently under production by the design team (and the contractor’s specialist sub-contractors, if applicable) will, when finished, generally include all the final design information required for the construction works on-site.
Like concept design, it is possible for different aspects of the project to be at different stages in terms of how progressed the design is. The following steps take this into account.
First, for the issue/credit being pursued, determine which of the relevant assessment scope items are relevant (the assessment scope items given in table 1 and 2 may be used, but the rest of the information in these tables relates to concept design).
For the relevant assessment scope items from step 1, decide which of the following applies the most: -
- Where all the final design information required for the construction works on-site is in the process of being included in the design documentation, this indicates that the project, or part of the project being considered, is likely to be at the ‘Technical Design’ stage.
- If it is not in the process of being included, the project, or part of the project being considered, is likely to be at an earlier stage.
- If the existing design documentation already includes all the final design information required for the construction works on-site the project, or part of the project being considered, is likely to be at a later stage.
17/06/2019 KBCN updated to provide additional guidance
Tools: Tracker+ - KBCN0760
Please note that Tracker+ is not a BRE-owned or managed reporting tool. For issues concerning Tracker + please contact the provider (Southfacing) as the BRE cannot advise on technical issues relating to Tracker+.
Unoccupied spaces [superseded – see KBCN1447] - KBCN0873
16 June 2021- This guidance has now been incorporated in KBCN1447
Untreated/unoccupied buildings and structures – Applicability of BREEAM - KBCN1447
BREEAM has been developed to assess the environmental performance of buildings that are designed, in whole or in part, for human occupation. Buildings that comprise only unoccupied spaces, such as multi-storey car parks, storage facilities and changing/WC blocks, which have no spaces occupied continuously for more than 30 mins, cannot undergo a stand-alone BREEAM assessment.
For buildings that do not incorporate environmental systems to treat spaces for human occupation assessment against BREEAM New Construction and Refurbishment and Fit-Out standards may be of limited value. As a guide, if Approved Document Part L is not applicable to the building, it is likely that BREEAM will be unsuitable.
Civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping, public realm projects and unoccupied assets such as multi-storey car parks may, however, be suitable for assessment against the CEEQUAL scheme. Please see www.ceequal.com
for further information.
Please note that data centres should be assessed using BREEAM Data Centres, regardless of whether they include occupied spaces.
16th June 2021 Clarified and updated to incorporate the content of KBCN0873
Information correct as of 16thAugust 2022. Please see kb.breeam.com for the latest compliance information.
WELL v2 and BREEAM – Alignment - KBCN1158
WELL v2 is currently in a pilot/test phase. IWBI has produced a ‘one-way’ alignment document ‘Applying BREEAM and the WELL Building StandardTM
– Strategies for interiors, new buildings and existing buildings seeking dual certification’, which shows how BREEAM New Construction scheme credits can contribute to achieving WELL v2 pilot features. The document is available to download from the Resources section of the WELL v2 website
. It is anticipated that an updated version of the BREEAM Briefing Paper ‘Assessing Health and Wellbeing in Buildings: Alignment between BREEAM and the WELL Building StandardTM
will be published when the final version of WELL v2 is launched. Queries regarding timescales about the final version of WELL v2 and related alignment/‘crosswalk’ documents should be made directly to IWBI ([email protected]
15.02.2019: Updated to reference the latest publication from WELL, and to outline the predicted timescales for an updated version of the BREEAM Briefing Paper ‘Assessing Health and Wellbeing in Buildings: Alignment between BREEAM and the WELL Building StandardTM
13/03/2020: Updated timescales