New Construction / UK / 2018 /

08 Land Use and Ecology

Information correct as of 15thJuly 2024. Please see for the latest compliance information.

Change in ecological value – Route 2 – credit allocation - KBCN1139

10/08/2018 - The correct credit allocation for Route 2 can be found in Version 1.2 onwards of the technical manual.
The information below is incorrect and not valid for use.
Upon completing the calculation of change in ecological value following the Route 2 methodology detailed in GN36, a percentage score will be achieved. Providing all other necessary criteria are met, the following credits can be awarded for the relevant issues:
Project Status Percentage Score Credits Awarded Issue
Minimising Loss 75-94% 1 LE03
No Net Loss 95-104% 2 LE03
Net Gain 105-109% 1 LE04
Significant Net Gain 110% or more 3 LE04
A total of 5 credits is available for achieving significant net gain, with up to 2 credits available in LE 03 and up to 3 credits available in LE 04. This information will be added to the manual in the next reissue.

Classifying lines of trees not part of a continuous hedge - KBCN1333

Lines of trees (where not part of a continuous hedge) should be considered as an area-based habitat, rather than a linear habitat. Please see the ‘Individual Trees and Lines of Trees’ section in Guidance Note 36 for details on calculating this. Appendix A of GN36 version 0.0 implies the opposite, however this is an error and will be corrected in future updates.

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.

DEFRA Small Sites Metric (SSM) - KBCN1614

The Small Sites Metric (SSM), the simplified version of the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric 4.0, cannot be used as a means of assessing Biodiversity Net Gain in BREEAM. We will consider accounting for the SSM in future versions of all BREEAM Schemes. The calculation methodology in GN36 is based on the full version of the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric. 

Determining ecological outcomes – criteria not met - KBCN1457

The 'determining ecological outcomes' criteria in both routes 1 and 2 have a major impact on achieving the rest of the credits in the Land Use and Ecology category. The dependency maps below show what potential effect this has on the assessment when this criteria is not achieved. Determining ecological outcomes rev 0.0

Ecological enhancement implementation time-frames - KBCN1196

At the Post Construction Assessment stage of large or phased developments, for example, some ecological enhancements may not have been completed. This may include features which are to be added at a later date in the appropriate planting season. In such cases, it is acceptable to provide evidence from the client or principal contractor confirming that the enhancements will be completed within an appropriate period, advised by the SQE.

Ecological risk evaluation checklist – Assessment Route 2 - KBCN1113

Where assessment route 2 is chosen, regardless of the outcome of the Ecological risk evaluation checklist, the checklist does not need to be completed. The intent of the checklist is to understand the ecological risks associated with the site, and to confirm if assessment route 1 is appropriate for the site.

Ecology and Biodiversity section in the building owner information - KBCN1373

The section on Ecology and Biodiversity, which is included as part of the tenant or building owner information, requires input by the Suitably Qualified Ecologist, even though it is likely to also involve generic information that does not need to be provided by them. The SQE should review all guidance to ensure it is technically correct and appropriate for the specific project. It is at the discretion of the SQE to determine which parts of the section require their input.  This section should be written in plain English, so that a non-specialist audience can understand it. The nature of the content will depend on the particular project and space available.

Ecology dependency diagrams - KBCN1456

These dependency diagrams show how ecology prerequisites and credits interact across issues in the ecology category. UK New Construction UK NC ecology dependencies rev 0.0 Applies to: Home Quality Mark HQM V6 ecology dependencies rev 0.0 Applies to:
30-Aug-2023 - HQM ecology dependency diagram added. Title and scheme applicability updated.

Erratum – Criterion 8 – ‘No net loss’ - KBCN1210

In Criterion 8 of this issue, the wording, 'No net loss of ecological value' should read, 'No overall loss of ecological value'. This corresponds to the definition of 'No overall loss' provided in the guidance for this Issue.
Technical manual to be updated accordingly in next reissue.

Erratum – UK NC2018 LE 05 – criterion 6 - KBCN1189

Criterion 6 should not have been included in the Planning, liaison, data, monitoring and review management and maintenance credit. Instead it is a requirement of the below credit as follows;

One credit - Landscape and ecology management plan (or similar) development

6. Landscape and ecology management plan, or equivalent, is developed in accordance with BS 42020:2013 Section 11.11 covering as a minimum the first five years after project completion and includes:

6.a: Actions and responsibilities, prior to handover, to give to relevant individuals

6.b: The ecological value and condition of the site over the development life.

6.c: Identification of opportunities for ongoing alignment with activities external to the development project and which supports the aims of BREEAM's Strategic Ecology Framework

6.d: Identification and guidance to trigger appropriate remedial actions to address previously unforeseen impacts

6.e: Clearly defined and allocated roles and responsibilities.

7. The landscape and management plan or similar is updated as appropriate to support maintenance of the ecological value of the site.

Please follow these criteria instead of what is written in the BREEAM UK NC 2018 Manual

Erratum – UK NC2018 LE 05 – Prerequisite criterion 2 - KBCN1123

Clarification of the LE05 prerequisite reference to LE 04 will be made in the next manual re-issue. It will distinguish more clearly between the Route 1 and Route 2 requirements as follows: 2. The following must be achieved according to the route being assessed: 2a. Route 1 - Criteria 3-4 in LE 03 have been achieved. 2b. Route 2 - Criteria 3-4 in LE 03 have been achieved, and at least one credit under LE 04 for 'Change and Enhancement of Ecology' has been awarded.

Exemplary level criteria – Shell only assessments - KBCN1511

Criterion 10c requires the credit for Pol 05 to be achieved. For shell only assessments, where Issue Pol 05 is filtered out, this requirement does not apply.

Exemplary level criteria – Wider site sustainability – Pol 03 requirements - KBCN1539

Criterion 10.b. is intended to be read as follows: Pol 03 Flood and surface water management - Achieve ALL credits for 'Surface water run-off' and 'Minimising watercourse pollution'
Technical manual to be updated accordingly in next reissue.

Green roofs – habitat distinctiveness - KBCN1332

In GN36 Appendix C - Habitat Type Classification and Reference Index the distinctiveness types which have been set for Extensive and Intensive green roofs in part relate to ‘likely’ planting taking into consideration possible options for these roofs. Taking into consideration evolving and changing practices around green roofs (and generally relating to habitat classification) notes A&B in GN36 Appendix C provide the ecologist with the flexibility to use their professional judgement to use alternative information / classification as long as this is justified. As such, whilst the distinctiveness levels set in Appendix C should be used in normal circumstances, where the ecologist can provide evidence/justification for doing so, they can specify the distinctiveness of the green roof based specifically on the planting that has implemented on that project.

Guidance Note 35 withdrawn - KBCN1355

Guidance Note 35 has been withdrawn following the publication of v3.0 of the BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 Technical manual.  This manual reissue includes all of the information contained in this guidance note in a revised form and supersedes the GN content.  As such the GN should not be used for assessment purposes and it has been archived.  A copy can be downloaded if required for archive purposes only. Please see KBCN1221 regarding the original Guidance Note 35.

Guidance Note 40 to be updated - KBCN1356

Following the publication of v3.0 of the BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 Technical manual, the wording in Guidance Note 40 differs to some degree from that in the manual.  However, the underlying content is the same and the form may still be used to provide evidence for assessments.  Alternatively, it may be used to guide the preparation of evidence in a different format if preferred.  This GN will be updated to fully correspond to the wording in the reissued manual. Please see KBCN1190 regarding the purpose and scope of Guidance Note 40.

Habitat classification – Assigning a different classification to that specified in GN36 - KBCN1515

Where the SQE provides written confirmation and robust justification that a particular feature should be assigned to a different habitat classification, the assessor can consider this as valid for their assessment.

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.
19 Nov 2021 Applicability to UK NC2018 confirmed

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:
13th Jul 21 Correction - applied to UK NC2018 LE05

Low or no ecological value to manage and maintain - KBCN1383

The purpose of the criteria is to recognise projects that are positively contributing to local ecological value by managing and protecting it as part of the site being assessed. If there is no ecological value to maintain or manage on the site, the purpose of the criteria is not being met and credits cannot be awarded by default. For sites with low ecological value to begin with, the criteria encourage projects to consider ways to create ecological features that support local biodiversity as part of the development (e.g. habitat creation as part of the ecology issues focused on ecological enhancement).

Measuring ecological change – Using Defra Metric 3.0, 3.1, 4.0 and the Statutory Biodiversity Metric - KBCN1476

Defra Metric 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0 have been mapped to the BREEAM Change in Ecological Value Calculator and can be used in assessments for BREEAM UK New Construction 2018, BREEAM Infrastructure Version 6 (formerly CEEQUAL Version 6), and Home Quality Mark ONE. Please see the table below for the applicable benchmarks where Defra Metric 3.0, 3.1 or 4.0 is used. The benchmarks from the Defra Metric are taken from the lowest score from the three metrics (Habitat, Hedgerow, River). If a metric is not present, e.g. there is no river on the site, the score of 0 for that metric must be ignored when taking the lowest score.
Metric result Credits awarded
BREEAM (GN36) / Defra Metric 2.0 Defra Metric (3.0, 3.1, 4.0) and the Statutory Biodiversity Metric BREEAM UK NC 2018 HQM ONE BREEAM Infrastructure V6
Less than 75% Less than -25% 0 0 0
Between 75% and 94% Between -24% and -6% 1 2 10
Between 95% and 104% Between -5% and 4% 2 4 20
Between 105% and 109% Between 5% and 9% 3 6 30
110% and above 10% and above 3 + 1 exemplary level credit 8 40
The above approach can be used to determine the percentage score that describes ecological change in Guidance Note 36 (Table 9: Reward Scale), if the following is also met: Alternatively, the BREEAM Change in Ecological Value calculator tool will continue to be accepted until stated otherwise.
03 Mar 2022 - Updated to clarify how Defra Metric 3.0 can be applied to current schemes
27 May 2022 - Updated to Defra Metric 3.1
21 Sep 2022 - Clarification on the figure to use from Defra Metric 3.0 or 3.1
14 Oct 2022 - Updated following rebrand of CEEQUAL to BREEAM Infrastructure
16 Feb 2023 - Added rules and clarification from KBCN1407.
01 Jun 2023 - Addition of DEFRA Metric 4.0

Measuring ecological change with Defra Metric 2.0 ~ superseded ~ - KBCN1407

For DEFRA Metric 3.0 and 3.1, please see KBCN1476 - Measuring ecological change – Using Defra Metric 3.0 and 3.1 The Defra Metric tool 2.0 can be used to determine the percentage score that describes ecological change in Guidance Note 36 (Table 9: Reward Scale), if the following is also met: Alternatively, the BREEAM Change in Ecological Value calculator tool will continue to be accepted until stated otherwise. This is subject to change as part of transitioning to Defra Metric 2.1, once this has been finalised and released. The latest timescales and information on this are available from Natural England: Edited 21/09/22:  The BREEAM Ecological Change tool determines credits using the lowest 'Post development percentage of Pre development' score for the Area based and Linear habitats. If the Defra Metric tool 2.0 has been used, the 'Total net % change' results should be used to calculate this, which is the lowest score of the three metrics. For example, if the Defra Metric 2.0 tool suggests that there is a net change of -65%, then the 'Post development percentage of Pre development' would be 35% for the purposes of BREEAM. Likewise, if the net change is +8%, then the percentage would be 108%.
21 09 2022 Paragraph added to clarify

Methodology items to consider – Land use and ecology - KBCN1264

The methodology section provides a list of considerations for several credits, for example, a list of possible stakeholders and a list of items to be included as part of the survey and evaluation. The items in these lists can be applied flexibly, therefore if they are not deemed appropriate or relevant to the site by a Suitably Qualified Ecologist (or project team member if using route 1), they do not need to be included or referred to in the report. The items should be used as a basis for ensuring the delivery of the required outcomes, by ensuring all relevant aspects have been considered.

Off-site ecological enhancement - KBCN1495

In line with LE 04 Criterion 4, in certain circumstances, BREEAM may recognise ecological enhancements which are not within the boundary of the site being assessed. Off-site enhancement may be accepted where:
  1. Assessment Route 2 is followed
  2. On-site enhancement is not possible, or the Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE) confirms that the proposed ecological enhancements are appropriate and more effective than can be done solely within the red line boundary.
  3. The enhancement is made within the “Zone of Influence” [See LE 02 - Definitions]
  4. There are arrangements in place for the on-going maintenance of the enhanced land. This could be demonstrated by compliance with LE 05
Full justification and robust evidence must be submitted when relying on this approach.

Optimal Ecological Outcome - KBCN1265

The optimal ecological outcome for a site can be defined as a solution that both, provides maximum benefit to the ecology, whilst accounting for other priorities for the development. This may result in several options/iterations and the most favourable option selected and justified, taking account of all site-specific considerations (for example scale, scope, size and any other priorities).

Prerequisite – Alternative compliance for Route 2 - KBCN1475

The purpose of the prerequisite (Criterion 2) is to ensure that there is ecological value to be managed and maintained. To align fully with this aim, the following additional route to meeting the prerequisite can be considered compliant (see 2.c): 2.b: Comprehensive route (Route 2) - Criterion 8 in LE 03 has been achieved, and at least one credit under LE 04 for 'Change and Enhancement of Ecology' has been awarded. [Criterion 6] OR 2.c: Comprehensive route (Route 2) - Criterion 8 in LE 03 has been achieved and one credit under LE 04 for 'Ecological Enhancement' has been awarded [Criteria 4 and 5]  

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.

Previously occupied land – multi-use games areas (MUGAs) - KBCN1464

For education assessments, playing fields are considered previously occupied land if an equivalent area of playing field is reinstated on land of low ecological value within one year of completing the construction works. Multi-use games areas (MUGA) or similar are also acceptable as replacements for playing fields.

Previously occupied land – multiple assessed buildings - KBCN1093

For sites with multiple assessed buildings, where it is not possible to clearly define separate development footprints for each building, the assessment can be done on a site-wide basis. In this approach, the boundary of the development footprint is considered to be the whole site. This overall result is used to assess compliance for each included BREEAM assessment.
20-Oct-2022 Title amended for clarity. Wording clarified. Scheme applicability updated.

Proposed development – definition for use in assessment - KBCN1255

The correct definition to use for the assessment of LE01 is 'Proposed development'. The definition of 'Development footprint' will be removed and Criterion 1 clarified in the next re-issue of the technical manual.

Recognised local ecological expertise - KBCN1193

Organisations/individuals that have the expertise to provide specialist input or guidance to inform the adoption of locally relevant (within the zone of influence) ecological measures that enhance the ecological value of the site.  This may include bodies such as: a. Local Government and other statutory relevant organisations. b. Local community groups, organisations, or charities, such as the Wildlife Trusts. c. Local, regional, or national fauna focused groups such as Bug life, RSPB, Bat Conservation Trust etc.
This definition will be added to the relevant technical manuals in their next re-issue.

Relating green roofs to multiple assessments in the same building - KBCN1195

A green roof on top of such buildings can be used to award credits for each assessment for which the Land use and ecology Issues apply. The benefit can be applied to to all assessments undertaken for the building provided all are completed within the appropriate time-frame of a valid ecological survey.

Reward Scale for UKNC LE04 - KBCN1376

Guidance Note 36 outlines a rewards scale (table 9) for the credits awarded in LE04, Ecological Change and Enhancement. Table 9 breaks down the credits into 4 sections:
  1. Minimising loss
  2. No net loss
  3. Net Gain
  4. Significant net gain
For UKNC 2018, sections 1-3 correspond to the 3 credits awarded when a project follows the comprehensive route. Exemplary level credits are given if section 4 is achieved.    

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.  

Role of the SQE in planning and measures on-site - KBCN1372

The main role of the Suitably Qualified Ecologist for 'planning and measures on-site' is to make recommendations in their Preliminary Ecological Appraisal. It is important that these are incorporated into the project’s scheduling, management and resources and that ultimately, they are implemented in practice. The person coordinating this does not need to be the SQE, as long as this individual has the appropriate level of authority to take the relevant actions and the methodology is followed. At post-construction stage, evidence needs to demonstrate these measures are implemented in practice, through site visits and appropriate evidence. In some cases, the SQE may need to be involved themselves in checking their recommendations are implemented for certain measures, if they consider this is required. However, if this is required, it would be up to the SQE to confirm in their Preliminary Ecological Appraisal.  

Site clearance prior to purchase of the site - KBCN1197

For sites cleared prior to purchase of the site and less than five years before assessment, a Suitably Qualified Ecologist should estimate the site’s ecological value immediately prior to clearance using available desktop information (including aerial photography) and the landscape type/area surrounding the site. Where it is not possible for the ecologists to determine ecological value of the site prior to site clearance, i.e. where there is no evidence to determine compliance, the credits must be withheld. For sites cleared more than five years ago, the ecological value of the site must be based on the current situation, on the basis that, within five years, ecological features would have started to re-establish and this is, therefore, representative of the site’s ecological value prior to development.

Site wide approach to ecological enhancements - KBCN1194

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. The benefit can be applied on a site-wide basis provided all developments are completed within the appropriate timeframe of a valid ecological survey.

Suitably Qualified Ecologist – Other recognised organisations - KBCN0192

With regards to the definition of a Suitably Qualified Ecologist, in addition to the organisations already listed within the manual, full members of the following organisations are also deemed SQE's; Provided the individual meets all other requirements as outlined in the definition of a Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE).

Suitably Qualified Ecologist – Professional membership - KBCN0743

With reference to the definition provided in the technical guidance, ecologists can be considered as meeting Requirement 3 based on full membership of the organisations listed.

Those who are not full members may be considered as meeting Requirement 3, however the assessor must ensure and demonstrate, that the ecologist is covered by a professional code of conduct and is subject to peer review.

In all cases, Requirements 1 and 2 must also be met.

24 May 2024 - Updated to clarify that where ecologists who are not full members of a professional body meet the above guidance for Requirement 3, other than also meeting Requirements 1 and 2, no additional evidence or confirmation is required.

Targeting ecology issues using a mixture of routes - KBCN1306

Where Route 1 is pursued initially and it is subsequently decided that Route 2 should be followed, the Suitably Qualified Ecologist appointed should review all evidence available for the issues already assessed to confirm the actions taken were appropriate. Note: Route 1 and Route 2 are referred to as the 'Foundation' and 'Comprehensive' routes in HQM ONE, respectively.  

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.

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 - KBCN1095

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 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 per the 'Contaminated land - Scope' within the methdology.

Verification of an ecology report / information - KBCN1192

If the appointed ecologist does not meet the definition of a ‘suitably qualified ecologist’ (SQE) the report / information submitted to support the assessment must be verified by an individual who does. 1. The individual verifying the report must provide written confirmation that they comply with the definition of a ‘suitably qualified ecologist’. 2. The verifier must provide signed confirmation that they have checked and approved the report. This must clearly reference the report and can be in the form of a signed letter or their printed name and signature on a completed pro-forma. In doing so, they are deemed to confirm that the report: a. represents sound industry practice b. is correctly, truthful, and objective c. is appropriate given the local site conditions and scope of works proposed d. avoids invalid, biased, or exaggerated statements Such confirmation from the verifier must be provided in addition to all other information required by the relevant technical manual and referenced as part of the evidence submitted to demonstrate compliance. It can take a number of years for an ecologist to meet the SQE definition. Verification of information by an existing SQE supports the practical application of the assessment criteria and is in line with industry practice.
13/08/2019 Updated to clarify, in practical terms, what evidence of verification will be considered acceptable.
Information correct as of 15thJuly 2024. Please see for the latest compliance information.