Building Back Better: Circularity and BREEAM
In its work to provide resources for the construction sector, BREEAM has created the online briefing hub, ‘Building Back Better with BREEAM: Supporting the green recovery’. The hub gathers a collection of briefing papers that reflect BREEAM’s position on important issues.
In the area of sustainability and the circular economy (CE), BREEAM recommends resource circularity requirements on energy, water, materials, waste, reuse and recycling as they relate to construction and real estate. Each BREEAM assessment scheme will build upon this position, as outlined in this interactive website, Circularity and BREEAM.
 Defining a circular economy
The concept of the CE goes beyond the three Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - and aims to maximise total material resource efficiency. CE is a concept in which everything is engineered to be constantly reused or recycled and is in direct contrast to the linear ‘take-make-waste’ concept associated with the disposable economy mindset.
Although the linear economy is associated with job creation based on the continuing demand for new products fabricated from virgin materials, it is also associated with waste creation. In contrast, CE requires rethinking of design, manufacturing, selling, reusing, recycling and consumer ownership to keep resources in use for as long as possible and extract maximum value while producing minimal pollution.
 CE and sustainability
CE in construction and real estate is primarily associated with environmental sustainability. Some circularity initiatives define a scope ranging from operational carbon emissions and local economy to occupant health and local biodiversity. However, it can be difficult to determine the distinctions between circularity and sustainability.
Within BREEAM, CE relates most closely to resource use and supply chains through practical solutions and holistic performance assessment. Practical solutions that incorporate circularity principles are tangible, specific measures that projects can take to improve circularity and improve asset performance (documented through processes such as life cycle assessment, energy and water modelling).
Examples of ‘more with less’ practical solutions include:
- Reuse of resources.
- Efficiency of resource consumption.
- Use of abundant and renewable resources.
- Adoption of durable design
Examples of enabled reuse include:
- Designing for simple disassembly, reuse and recycling.
- Materials banking.
- Materials/product passports.
- Adaptable design.
Another practical solution within CE relates to behaviours around procurement. Adopting responsible and ethical sourcing practices may involve a degree of uncertainty, but there are some responsible/ethical sourcing certification schemes designed to reduce unknown supply chain factors.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BREEAM Life cycle cost and service life planning.
- BREEAM Responsible Sourcing of Materials.
- BREEAM: The Next Generation.
- Building Back Better: Health.
- Building Back Better: Net zero carbon and BREEAM.
- Building Back Better: Resilience.
- Building Back Better: Social impact.
- Circular economy.
- Cradle to cradle product registry system.
- Design for deconstruction.
- Green Guide to Specification
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Whole life costs.
Issue support documents
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Issue support documents are written for named BREEAM Issues or sub-issues. More info. (ac) = awaiting content.
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- BREEAM Sustainability champion
- BREEAM Environmental management
- BREEAM Considerate construction
- BREEAM Monitoring of construction site impacts
- BREEAM Aftercare support
- BREEAM Seasonal commissioning
- BREEAM Testing and inspecting building fabric
- BREEAM Life cycle cost and service life planning
- BREEAM Stakeholder consultation (ac)
- BREEAM Commissioning (ac)
- BREEAM Handover (ac)
- BREEAM Inclusive and accessible design (ac)
- BREEAM Post occupancy evaluation
 Health and Wellbeing
- BREEAM Visual comfort Daylighting (partly ac)
- BREEAM Visual comfort View out
- BREEAM Visual comfort Glare control
- BREEAM Indoor air quality plan
- BREEAM Indoor air quality Ventilation
- BREEAM Thermal comfort
- BREEAM Internal and external lighting (ac)
- BREEAM Indoor pollutants VOCs (ac)
- BREEAM Potential for natural ventilation (ac)
- BREEAM Safe containment in laboratories (ac)
- BREEAM Acoustic performance
- BREEAM Safety and security (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of energy use and carbon emissions
- BREEAM Energy monitoring
- BREEAM External lighting
- BREEAM Low carbon design
- BREEAM Passive design
- BREEAM Free cooling
- BREEAM LZC technologies
- BREEAM Energy efficient cold storage (partly ac)
- BREEAM Energy efficient transportation systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient laboratory systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient equipment (partly ac)
- BREEAM Drying space
- BREEAM Transport assessment and travel plan
- BREEAM Public transport accessibility
- BREEAM Sustainable transport measures
- BREEAM Proximity to amenities
- BREEAM Cyclist facilities
- BREEAM Alternative modes of transport (ac)
- BREEAM Maximum car parking capacity
- BREEAM Travel plan
- BREEAM Home office (ac)
- BREEAM Water consumption
- BREEAM Water efficient equipment
- BREEAM Water monitoring
- BREEAM Water leak detection (ac)
- BREEAM Hard landscaping and boundary protection
- BREEAM Responsible sourcing of materials
- BREEAM Insulation
- BREEAM Designing for durability and resilience
- BREEAM Life cycle impacts
- BREEAM Material efficiency (ac)
- BREEAM Construction waste management
- BREEAM Recycled aggregates
- BREEAM Speculative floor & ceiling finishes
- BREEAM Adaptation to climate change
- BREEAM Operational waste
- BREEAM Functional adaptability (ac)
 Land Use and Ecology
- BREEAM Site Selection
- BREEAM Ecological value of site
- BREEAM Protection of ecological features
- BREEAM Minimising impact on existing site ecology
- BREEAM Enhancing site ecology
- BREEAM Long term impact on biodiversity (ac)
- BREEAM Impact of refrigerants
- BREEAM NOx emissions
- BREEAM Flood risk management (ac)
- BREEAM Surface water run-off (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of night time light pollution (partly ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of noise pollution
Once an ISD has been initially created the '(ac)' marker can be removed
This particular index is based around the structure of the New Construction and RFO schemes.