Last edited 13 Nov 2020

Main author

Sarah Peterson Engineer Website

BREEAM Thermal comfort


[edit] Aim and benefits

To ensure buildings users are warm enough in the winter, cool enough in the summer, and can control their own heating.

In UK NC 2014 there are 3 credits:

[edit] When to consider

The analysis should lead the design so ideally it should be carried out at concept design stage. RIBA Stage 2 - 3.

See Step-by-step guidance below for some guidance on actions in relation to the RIBA stages.

[edit] Step-by-step guidance

[edit] Pre-Assessment

Is your building comfort cooled? If yes, you should achieve credits 1 and 2, as long as your system is sized OK.

Is your building mechanically ventilated? If yes, you’ll probably achieve the credits.

Is your building fully naturally ventilated? If yes, you should achieve the first credit, but the climate change one will be tricky.

Note, in a school situation, it might only be the facilities manager who can control the heating/cooling so students don’t keep changing thermostatic radiator valves etc. In retail buildings/prisons etc the credit only refers to staff controlling the temperature.

[edit] RIBA Stage 2

Check overheating risk as part of initial Part L and thermal modelling. Start putting together a thermal zoning and control strategy.


  • The type of people that will use the building.
  • How capable they will be at using the different types of equipment.
  • How often they will be using the spaces and what the spaces will be used for.
  • How do individuals want to interact with heating/cooling controls?
  • How can you balance different peoples’ requirements?
  • How will the systems interact with each other?
  • Does there need to be an override so systems are not used inefficiently?

Work out how many heating/cooling zones are appropriate. Do central cores need separate heating to perimeter areas in large rooms?

[edit] RIBA Stage 3

Produce a thermal comfort report, covering winter comfort and overheating. Finalise the zoning and controls strategy. Include these in a report (this could be a stage report, or a stand-alone report)

Modelling should be carried out using dynamic simulation software (IES or TAS for example) in accordance CIBSE AM11. Ensure this is referenced in any report used as BREEAM evidence.

[edit] RIBA Stage 4

Unless there are any major design changes relating to heating and cooling, there may be no action here.

[edit] RIBA Stage 5

If you are working for an M&E subcontractor you may need to produce a markup of an as-built drawing showing zones and controls. You may also have to confirm formally that there have been no changes to the design which would affect the overheating risk, or make the building too cold in the winter.

The BREEAM assessor will take a lot of photos of the site showing that there are heating and cooling systems as per the design.

[edit] Questions to ask while seeking compliance

[edit] Tools and resources

[edit] Tips and best practice

Don't forget winter time thermal comfort.

TM52 is not a limiting stop. A building will not necessarily be comfortable because it meets TM52. Try not to let the thermal zoning exercise feel like “something you just have to do for BREEAM” – control strategies are a really important part of soft landings and trying to reduce the performance gap

[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.

--Sarah Peterson 15:39, 20 Feb 2018 (BST)

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