Last edited 18 Dec 2018

BREEAM Easy wins


[edit] BREEAM Easy wins

The following information was captured during a BREEAM Public Knowledge Sharing Workshop in December 2018 attended by 80 sustainability built environment professionals mostly BREEAM Assessors/APs but also some contractors, design team members, developers and supply chain.

[edit] Aim of this article

To demonstrate accessibility to many sustainable actions; stimulate further uptake; share lessons between professionals.

[edit] Process and content

We asked all participants to pick the top 10 ‘easy-win’ issues out of the 70 standard issue areas in New Construction and Refurbishment (RFO) schemes. For the ones with most votes we asked participants to say why they chose them as easy wins.

[edit] Applicability

At the time of creation the scheme versions most widely known that these results will be based on are UKNC2014, INTNC2016, UKRFO2014 and INTRFO2015. For newer versions such as UKNC2018 the following results may not apply.

[edit] Top 15 – all participants

Percent votes = the number of all voters who placed the issue in their top 10.

Int. Rank = The rank of those using International schemes

Tot Rank Issue Category Percent Votes Int. Rank
1 Considerate construction Management 50% 8
2 Public transport accessibility Transport 37% 1
3 Sustainability champion Management 36% 5
4 Proximity to amenities Transport 36% 3
5 Operational waste Waste 36% 2
6 Monitoring of construction site impacts Management 34% 18
7 External lighting Energy 33% 12
8 Indoor air quality plan Health and Wellbeing 30% 9
9 Travel plan Transport 30% 15
10 Water consumption Water 27% 7
11 Water monitoring Water 27% 22
12 Internal and external lighting Health and Wellbeing 26% 19
13 Energy monitoring Energy 26% 11
14 Cyclist facilities Transport 26% 13
15 Reduction of night time light pollution Pollution 23% 29

[edit] Top 15 - International only

It was noted by some that for International schemes there may well be differences, this was true in some cases.

Int. Rank Issue Category Int. % votes Notes taken
1 Public transport accessibility Transport 57% 1
2 Operational waste Waste 52% 1
3 Proximity to amenities Transport 48% 1
4 Glare control Health and Wellbeing 43%
5 Sustainability champion Management 38% 1
6 View out Health and Wellbeing 38%
7 Water consumption Water 38% 1
8 Considerate construction Management 33% 1
9 Indoor air quality plan Health and Wellbeing 33% 1
10 Inclusive and accessible design Management 29%
11 Energy monitoring Energy 29%
12 External lighting Energy 29% 1
13 Cyclist facilities Transport 29%
14 Alternative modes of transport Transport 29%
15 Travel plan Transport 29% 1

[edit] Easy wins commentary

Below are the summaries of comments made for each of the top 10 ‘easy-wins’ overall

(+3) = 3 more people made this comment

[edit] Considerate Construction

[edit] Why relatively easy

Standard Practice

Simple and flexible

  • Flexible criteria
  • Easy to understand criteria.
  • Simple certification process for Contractors to achieve

[edit] Caveats

1 vs 2 credits:

  • 1 credit is straightforward - the requirements are clear and, for the most part achievable. 2 credits can be a bit of a gamble
  • Pretty standard for a Contractor to undertake but less so for them to achieve 2+ credits


  • Under 2018 it doesn't seem that CCS covers all requirements
  • It doesn't look as straight forward under 2018

Contractor size

International views

  • Not easy so easy in some countries (+3)
  • Considerate construction isn't easy in France, especially when you want 2 credits with the A1 checklist
  • In France, with the local certification, procedures are already set that allow us to get that credit easily
  • Easy in France especially with general contractor

From a contractor:

  • There is sometimes problem with this credit. Assessors can assume that 40+ is easy and you can just add extra things in to get the credits. We are at the mercy of understaffed CCS assessors here and often only have one site visit. Its extremely frustrating to receive a DS assessment at R 3/4 that assumes 2+ Exemplary credits are 'Easy'

[edit] Other aspects

Third party aspect

  • Involves independent third party assessor
  • The monitoring is by a third party - evidence that can’t be disputed
  • It is reliant on an external CCS inspector so you can’t count on it

Taking action

  • Contractors can take action to improve after first visit if needed
  • 2 credits usually achieved quite easily and provides good feedback for contractors to work towards to improve their practices generally which is really useful feedback

[edit] Public transport Accessibility

Almost entirely dependent on location. Easy in a city, difficult or impossible in rural locations

[edit] Why relatively easy

Easy in a city:


  • Easy to calculate PTAL ratings - public knowledge from TFL
  • Evidence doesn't rely on the design team
  • The evidence collection isn’t too arduous
  • Normally required for planning anyway

[edit] Caveats

Location dependent:

Rural location:

  • Not so easy when you're in the middle of Scotland with one bus service
  • Not easy if you're not central (+6)


[edit] Sustainability Champion

[edit] Why relatively easy

Appointment and Evidence:

Assessor/AP can lead

[edit] Caveats

Contractor role:


  • Comparatively inexpensive, and doesn’t require Project Team action - other than for the appointment of the AP.
  • As a minimum you should do 6 days on this for 1.64% typically
  • Not very expensive, even though sometimes hard for client to understand why to pay both an AP and an assessor


  • It is hard in Hungary, because there are not too many BREEAM APs

Timeline (early appointment)

  • Only easy to achieve if appointment is made early (+4)
  • Normally involves early appointment and use of a competent person who understands the BREEAM process
  • Seems hard sometimes to get AP engagement early on, but once in, it’s not bad
  • Where the project team invites the SC in at an appropriate time, the credits are easy-win by virtue of being controlled by the sustainability specialist.

[edit] Other Aspects

  • An AP providing guidance to the contractor is necessary in my opinion, to guarantee qualitative evidence
  • Assessors may provide the support but meeting attendances are significant

[edit] Proximity to Amenities

[edit] Why relatively easy


  • Easy to chart journey and location to amenities using google maps (+3)
  • Evidence doesn't rely on the design team, can produce evidence myself (+2)

[edit] Caveats


  • Amenities can disappear between interim and post construction assessment
  • This is not easy as relies upon factors which are potentially out of control of the site constraints. Like local shops etc
  • Not easy to control
  • Not something that we have any influence over
  • Don’t like this as they are usually outside control of project

Site dependent

  • Often difficult in rural areas, but easy to assess and evidence usually readily available (+2)

[edit] Other aspects

  • If the amenities needs to include post boxes, these are a dying form of communication

[edit] Operational Waste

[edit] Why relatively easy


  • because if you don't have enough space to meet the BREEAM space requirements you just have to put a valid justification together
  • Normally straightforward, justification for space provided if area is not big enough.

Standard practice

  • Pretty standard nowadays but ensuring a water outlet for organic waste is not always assured in addition to additional space for catering facilities
  • Separated waste now has become more common place


  • Easy to achieve when a good SWMP via SMARTWaste or similar is used.
  • Easy if taken at the beginning of the project

[edit] Caveats


  • Usually this is very possible as long as there is space on the site.
  • If there os adequate space on site, then it is not too onerous to get compliant facilities implemented.
  • It is massively dependent on building type, location and available external space


  • Key is documentation - often the exercise to determine waste quantities is done but not formalised to meet BREEAM requirements
  • Can be difficult to get the evidence of waste streams being discussed

Building type

  • Easy especially for schools, education buildings
  • Very difficult for student accommodation. No council provides food waste collection from commercial premises and students are not really willing to sort food waste.
  • It's peculiar to me that this is a minimum standard for Excellent, and can be very tricky on Excellent Student Halls


  • Easy in Norway to get the first two credits, requires a bit more planning for 3rd and exemplary
  • Operational waste not always easy in France, especially in Shell & Core buildings


  • Often conflicts with waste management strategies
  • Not easy if operational waste contractor is not known
  • The tap for compost waste can be surprisingly expensive
  • The tap for composting can easily get left out
  • It could also be difficult when it comes with kitchen/ food waste as a separate item
  • Labels sometimes forgotten

[edit] Monitoring of Construction Site Impacts

[edit] Why relatively easy

Standard practice:


  • Easy paper trail on site?
  • Onsite information easy to have
  • Easy to monitor and log, except transport
  • Can set own targets so not really stringent criteria

[edit] Caveats



  • It is very tedious and Hungarian contractors are not used to this kind of monitoring
  • My experience of small to medium size contractors is that they say it is achievable but then don't do anything during construction and try to put it all together at the end so can be problematic.
  • Time consuming sometimes to get the contractor put together all the evidence in the correct units and fully compliant
  • Not easy for some building type e.g. shopping centre

[edit] Other aspects:

  • Only worth 0.54% or so
  • Contractor view: Fine in non-traditional or with CDPs but we have no budget and no say when we get to stage 4 and this hasn’t been factored in by the early team

[edit] External Lighting

[edit] Why relatively easy

Use of LEDs

Standard practice


  • Easy to close out with Assessor's site report
  • Average efficacy has improved this
  • Very easy to attend the lm/W

[edit] Caveats

Miscellaneous lighting



  • Just need to be careful on the ll/cw. Can be caught out with some products claiming to be energy efficient but actually isn't.
  • CIBSE guidelines, but sometimes too bright, but at least there is a baseline to work to

[edit] Indoor Air Quality Plan

[edit] Why relatively easy

Standard Practice

Consultant led


[edit] Caveats

Guidance Note (GN22)

  • IAQ Plan: through GN, the content is set- good example what should be addressed
  • GN22 can be hard to follow


  • Checklist A1 - some issues, like access of handicap/hearing/visually impaired persons + gender specific toilets/showers/changing rooms, are mostly not making sense for the contractors
  • IAQ was straightforward in 2014 - and worth a full credit- but value is less in 2018
  • This one is only easy if you have someone on the design team to take control of the document. The design team often see little benefit in this.
  • An Air Quality Plan need not be a complicated document; the only challenge is that some clients/contractors feel challenged by the pre-occupation testing aspect
  • Easy in France but not deeply followed in reality

[edit] Travel plan

[edit] Why relatively easy

Standard Practice

[edit] Caveats

Hard in some situations


  • Not required in Hungary, so it is not so easy!
  • Quite easy in France normally. But for areas with no existing users, it's difficult to evaluate the needs
  • Site dependent, in main cities is France, this is just a matter of paperwork

[edit] Other aspects

Tips: Pay attention to details, templates useful

  • Assessors just need to make sure that the BREEAM requirements are covered when analyses are commissioned so that they are not asking the client to commission extra sets of reports
  • Ensuring the Assessment covers the relevant material can require several revisions
  • Travel plan would be easier with a template to fill in as depending on the consultant it can be very good or the opposite
  • Travel plans are good but some consultants don’t cover the compliance criteria
  • Lots of travel plans don't cover all the BREEAM criteria.
  • Often the last thing we get in from the end user

[edit] Water Consumption

[edit] Why relatively easy

Standard Practice


[edit] Caveats

3+ credits:


  • Beware of creative use of flow restrictors
  • M&E sub contractors will frequently put in a variable flow restrictor and tell you whatever flow rate you want to hear, which makes it "easy" for BREEAM, if totally factually inaccurate

Flow rates

  • Sometimes can be tricky. PH engineer doesn’t want low flush toilets as the BS standard is not designed for such low flushes and risks leading to blockage. Although many install the very low flushes anyway
  • As long as client is happy with the flow rate restrictions
  • Evidence: Can be difficult to get suitable evidence to confirm flow rates/ consumption
  • Evidence: Constant monitoring / reminding contractors can be tedious


  • Water consumption is easy if factored in by DT early, if left to contractor post DS and done on whimsical commitments it can prove very difficult and troublesome
  • Constructor's don't take care of it usually
  • Only easy if the architect takes on board the requirements in their specification, difficult to rectify at post construction when things are done incorrectly! (+1)

Building Type

--Multiple Author Article 13:21, 18 Dec 2018 (BST)