Building Back Better: Net zero carbon 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 net zero carbon, BREEAM already provides robust measurement resources and helps organisations minimise carbon emissions at the asset level. Nonetheless, BREEAM is keen to support organisations’ net zero carbon activity further, particularly in how the final steps can be streamlined and supported. As a result, the organisation has prepared an interactive website, Net Zero Carbon and BREEAM.
 Defining net zero carbon
Net zero carbon is loosely defined as the creation of energy and resource efficient buildings powered from onsite or offsite renewable sources with any residual emissions offset by carbon removals. While the proliferation of net zero carbon initiatives is encouraging, there is a need for greater consistency in terminology, scope and measurement.
By working within existing net zero carbon definitions and initiatives, BREEAM plans to play a pivotal role. Consequently, the following strategy has been developed based on the results of a survey conducted during the summer of 2020. Participants were asked to provide their views on net zero carbon in order to help BREEAM understand how to support progress towards it.
 Six propositions
- Proposition 1 – The purpose of BREEAM Assessments.
- Proposition 2 – Embodied carbon and BREEAM assessments
- Proposition 3 – Net zero carbon pathways and BREEAM assessments
- Proposition 4.1 – Carbon offsetting and BREEAM assessments
- Proposition 4.2 – Carbon offsetting and net zero carbon
- Proposition 5.1 – Renewable energy and BREEAM assessments
- Proposition 5.2 – Renewable energy and net zero carbon
- Proposition 6 – A new net zero carbon solution from BREEAM
- Action area 1: Whole life carbon.
- Action area 2: Net zero carbon trajectory mapping.
- Action area 3: Net zero carbon verification.
A prerequisite to the following actions, BREEAM intends to work with Green Building Councils and local and central government to achieve greater consensus on how to achieve net zero carbon. To initiate the delivery of the strategy, BREEAM will be taking several additional steps, including:
- Working with - and supporting - the industry in achieving greater consensus on how to achieve net zero carbon.
- Developing and testing proposals for a new ‘zero whole life carbon’ methodology; prioritising the new construction schemes.
- Mapping alignment between BREEAM schemes and carbon reduction pathways, starting with the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CRREM).
- Developing and testing proposals for a new net zero carbon verification service, operationally as well as technically.
 Future thinking
To avoid potential for confusion between BREEAM assessments, which focus on asset core performance, and a net zero carbon results solution from BREEAM, communication of the results from both will be distinct and separate. As BREEAM is taking an agnostic approach (until a single definition has consensus), communication of the results will make it clear that a net zero carbon status is based on the selected initiative (and not a BREEAM definition of net zero carbon).
Find out more at this link.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BRE articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- BREEAM: The Next Generation.
- BREEAM USA In-Use Version 6.
- Building Back Better: Health.
- Building Back Better: Resilience.
- Building Back Better: Social impact.
- Building back better with BREEAM.
- Carbon neutral.
- Getting zero carbon done.
- Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark GRESB.
- Net zero carbon 2050.
- Net zero carbon buildings.
 External resources
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.