Last edited 25 Dec 2020

BREEAM Minimising impact on existing site ecology


[edit] Aim and benefits

The aim of this credit is to have a new development which is as close to (or better than!) the ecological value of the site pre-development.

[edit] When to consider

During RIBA Stage 2, begin to consider whether there is enough space on the site (with the proposed building footprint) to allow for sufficient planting. If your building footprint is much bigger than the existing site (or you’re building on a greenfield site), it may be that you want to consider a green roof (please note, you’ll need an ecologist for this).

During RIBA Stages 3 and 4, the design team should identify the exact number of species of plants required to give an ecological value of the site sufficient to award your target credits.

[edit] Step by step guidance

Depending on the level of ecology on site and being proposed, the design team can either choose to appoint a Suitably Qualified Ecologist or complete a schedule themselves confirming the broad habitat type(s) and their areas for the existing and the proposed sites. This can be done using the broad habitat types described in Table 56 of the BREEAM New Construction manual to select the most appropriate habitat types and Table 57 to determine the average total taxon (plant species) richness associated with the habitat type. The information can then be input into the LE03/04 calculator tool to determine the change in ecological value.

Where an ecologist is appointed then they will provide the same information but are able to determine the average total taxon (plant species) richness themselves based on their site survey and for the proposed site, based on landscape plans and their recommendations for the planting scheme.

The change in ecological value is calculated by multiplying the number of species on a broad habitat type by the broad habitat type as a % of the total area. The ecological value is the sum of the total plant species richness for each habitat type. This is done for both the existing site and the proposed site. The change in value is calculated by taking the ecological value of the site pre-development from the post development figure.

Where the change in ecological value is equal to or greater than zero, i.e. no negative change, then two credits can be awarded. Where the change in ecological value is less than zero but no more than minus nine plant species, just one credit can be awarded.

Where the assessment forms part of a larger development and the soft landscape and ecological features form a common part of the whole site, the broad habitat types for the entire site must be considered. Where a new building is an infill on an existing site however, the construction zone for the new building can be used for the area of site being assessed under this issue.

Where there are green roofs, an ecologist must be appointed to determine the plant species numbers. Green walls are not considered within this issue at present.

A Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE) is one that holds a degree or equivalent qualification in ecology or related subject, is a practising ecologist with a minimum of 3 years’ experience in the last 5 years in the field and is covered by a professional code of conduct (full member of the CIWEM, CIEEM, IEMA, LI or IES).

Where a site has been cleared prior to purchase of the site and less than 5 years before assessment, the ecological value must be estimated by the SQE of the site immediately prior to clearance using available desktop information. For sites cleared more than 5 years ago, the ecological value of the site can be assessed based on the current situation.

[edit] Questions to ask while seeking compliance

[edit] Tools and resources

[edit] Tips and best practice

Don’t discount the route of calculating species richness without a Suitably Qualified Ecologist. As you have to use BRE’s figures for species richness, you may score more highly using this method. Ecologists typically give weeds on a site which has been derelict for < 5 years some kind of ecological value. The BRE default figures do not. Please note, if you opt to assign taxon richness yourself to areas provided by your team, you will need to declare a conflict of interest to BRE, and justify how any conflict has been avoided.

Seek opportunities for off-site ecological enhancement specially for developments in lands with high ecological value and with the risk of removing species

[edit] Typical evidence

Design Stage

If you have a Suitably Qualified Ecologist:

If you don’t have a Suitably Qualified Ecologist:

Post Construction Stage ==

[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.

This document was originally created on 7/2/18 in a collaboration of the following BREEAM Professionals: Jane Morning, Cat Clarkson and Azita Dezfouli,

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

--Multiple Author Article 22:15, 21 Apr 2018 (BST)

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