BREEAM DR

The move from EcoHomes to BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment has all kinds of implications, not least what the new scheme means in terms of Local Authorities’ environmental rating requirements for domestic refurbishment planning applications.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) has been working with the BRE to understand how best to convert the old EcoHomes ratings into the new BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment (BDR) ones. The BRE has confirmed that an EcoHomes ‘Very Good’ is comparable to a BDR ‘Very Good’, and RBKC has updated Policy CE1 of its Core Strategy to reflect this. To view the updated RBKC Policy CE1 for yourself, please click here.

Unlike RBKC, most Councils do not have sustainability policies that specifically address residential refurbishment and instead specify a minimum Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) Level for residential development and a BREEAM rating for commercial schemes. Prior to 2013, most councils were seeking a CSH Level 3 for residential schemes and a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ for commercial. Though many Boroughs’ BREEAM and CSH requirements are now increasing from ‘Very Good’ and Level 3, to ‘Excellent’ and Level 4. In fact, the RB Kingston-upon-Thames’ BREEAM target has just increased from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Outstanding’!

The BRE won’t provide an equivalency between BREEAM ratings and CSH levels at the present time, but the new Domestic Refurbishment tool is a BREEAM scheme, and so developers may find that Councils simply apply the targets set for commercial buildings. As a result, we would strongly advise that for any domestic refurbishment project, consultation and negotiation with the Local Authority is undertaken at the earliest opportunity to try and understand exactly what target the scheme will need to work to.