BREEAM 2018 – A material look…

Mat 01- Environmental impacts from construction products – Building life cycle assessment

Proposed Changes

This credit replaces the BREEAM 2014 ‘Mat 01- Life Cycle impacts’ credit. It has been entirely restructured and now requires a whole building evaluation through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to award any credits. There are now up to seven credits and three exemplary credits available for this issue.

A modular structure has been applied to this credit issue and the assessment can be undertaken on the following options:

  1. LCA of superstructure only: Frame, Upper floors, Roof, Stairs and ramps, External walls, Windows and external doors, internal walls and partitions (education only).
  2. Option 1 and LCA of substructure and hard landscaping.
  3. Exemplary level only: Option 1 and 2 and LCA of core building services (heat sources, space heating and air conditioning, ventilation, fuel storage and distribution systems).

BRE have provided further detail on the sub-elements that are considered in and out of scope for each of the component level LCAs within the manual, which appear to align with the RICS classification codes.

Furthermore, there are RIBA stage timeframes associated with undertaking the LCAs for each of the above building components:

  • Initial LCAs would need to be completed prior to the end of RIBA Stage 2.
  • A revised LCA must then be undertaken by the end of RIBA Stage 4.
  • Additionally, for offices, industrial and retail buildings, LCA results would need to be submitted to the BRE, prior to the end of RIBA Stage 2 and 4, if certain credits were targeted.

To have the opportunity to gain the maximum number of credits, an ‘IMPACT compliant LCA tool or another LCA tool recognised by BREEAM’ is required to be used.

BRE do note that some smaller projects may not wish to undertake a full IMPACT compliant LCA and therefore will provide a ‘BREEAM simplified building LCA tool’, which can be used in lieu to gain some credits. This tool will be freely available to Assessors and is to be issued nearer to the publication of the final version of the manual, early next year. Please note, BRE have confirmed that the number of credits that can be achieved using this tool will be capped to a certain level, to be confirmed within the final issue of the manual.

Within this credit issue, up to three exemplary credits are also available:

  • One credit can be awarded where the LCA includes for the assessment of core building services.
  • One further credit is awarded where the LCA aligns with the project’s Life Cycle Cost plan required for the BREEAM Man 02- Life Cycle Cost and service life planning credit’, if being undertaken.
  • The last credit available is for the use of an independent third party suitably qualified specialist to carry out or verify the building’s LCA and produce a subsequent review report.

Potential implications

One implication is the additional cost associated with utilising more complex software to enable the full number of credits to be achieved. Furthermore, a third party LCA specialist may also be needed to support the preparation/ verification of the LCA for any project teams unfamiliar with the LCA process or for complex projects. This is likely to represent an added cost to the project, which may not have been initially accounted for.

An element of the credit requires an LCA to be undertaken by the end of RIBA Stage 2. This would require the appropriate technical consultant to be involved from the early project stages (RIBA stages 0/1 onwards) to ensure these credits are pursued. Development of an LCA model, particularly at this early stage, will be an unfamiliar process for some project teams and a significant time investment will be required. Furthermore, if the benchmarking LCA option is pursued for an offices, retail or industrial development, this is a potentially significant undertaking prior to the close of Stage 2 when the LCA model should be submitted to the BRE prior to the submission of the planning application. In comparison the 2014 guidance this is a greater undertaking at RIBA Stage 2 than is currently required by the design team, therefore early engagement is imperative.

We will be sending a formal response to the BRE this week based on our research into the guidance and the potential implications on project assessments.