Last edited 10 Dec 2020

Main author

Jane Morning Other Consultant Website

BREEAM Functional adaptability


[edit] Aim and benefits

The aim of this issue is to avoid unnecessary material use, cost and disruption arising from the need for future adaptation works as a result of changing functional demands and to maximise the ability to reclaim and reuse materials at final demolition in line with the principles of a circular economy.

Buildings should be designed structurally to enable flexibility of internal layouts and the external facade where possible. Ideally, there should be room for expansion of the building or building services to accommodate future changes in use, demand or technology. There should be scope to adapt and refurbish the building to another use or function, where the existing one has become redundant, without the need to demolish and rebuild.

[edit] When to consider

Stage 2 - Concept Design - Architect to prepare the building-specific Functional Adaptation Strategy Study

Stage 4 - Technical Design - Architect to provide an update to the Stage 2 report in the form of a Functional Adaptation Implementation Plan. They will also need to provide a Building Adaptability and Disassembly Guide

[edit] Step by step guidance

[edit] Design for Disassembly and Functional Adaptability - Recommendations (one credit)

A building-specific functional adaptation strategy study must be undertaken by the client and design team by Concept Design (RIBA Stage 2 or equivalent), to explore the ease of disassembly and the functional adaptation potential of different design scenarios and develop recommendations or solutions based on the study. Examples of functional design measures which may be adopted for each assessment part when considering accessibility, spatial adaptability and expandability are included in table Wst06.1.

A functional adaptation strategy study should consider:

  1. Feasibility – the likelihood to contain multiple or alternative building uses, area functions and different tenancies over the expected life cycle e.g. related to the structural design of the building.
  2. AccessibilityDesign aspects that facilitate the replacement of all major plant within the life of the building, e.g., panels in floors and walls that can be removed without affecting the structure, providing lifting beams and hoists. Accessibility also involves access to local services, such as local power, data and infrastructure.
  3. Versatility – The degree of adaptability of the internal environment to accommodate changes in working practices.
  4. Adaptability – The potential of the building ventilation strategy to adapt to future building occupant needs and climatic scenarios.
  5. Convertibility – The degree of adaptability of the internal physical space and external shell to accommodate changes of in-use.
  6. Expandability – The potential for the building to be extended, horizontally or vertically.
  7. Refurbishment potential’ – The potential for major refurbishment, including replacing the façade.

Wst06.1 Design Measures allowing Future Adaptation

[edit] Accessibility

[edit] Spatial Adaptability

[edit] Expandability

Fabric and structure:

External walls


Ground and first floor


Use of products or systems which allow easy replacements Location of structural components within the floor space Provision to add extensions or alterations to increase building capacity

Core and local services:

Mechanical and electrical


Stairs and lifts


Inclusion of facilities management requirements and construction design management feedback for future operational needs Provision of capacity in infrastructure to enable future expansion and adaptation

Interior design:



Interior walls


Use of products or systems which allow easy replacements

Layout in standardised grids

Use of inherent finishes to allow replacement

Use of standardised material sizes

Identifying or recognising potential future functional requirements

Efficient use of space to allow for any increase in occupancy

[edit] Questions to ask while seeking compliance

Awaiting content

[edit] Tools and resources

Awaiting content

[edit] Tips and best practice

Awaiting content

[edit] Typical evidence

[edit] Design Stage

A copy of the Functional Adaptation Strategy Study Report should be provided at Stage 2.

A copy of the Functional Adaptation Implementation Plan Report and Building Adaptability and Disassembly Guide should be provided at Stage 4.

[edit] Post Construction

As design stage, no further evidence required, unless the Disassembly Guide needs updating.

[edit] Applicable Schemes

The guidelines collated in this ISD aim to support sustainable best practice in the topic described. This issue may apply in multiple BREEAM schemes covering different stages in the life of a building, different building types and different year versions. Some content may be generic but scheme nuances should also be taken into account. Refer to the comments below and related articles to this one to understand these nuances. See this document for further guidelines.

BRE Global does not endorse any of the content posted and use of the content will not guarantee the meeting of certification criteria.

--Jane Morning 10:05, 05 Jun 2019 (BST)

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