New 2018 BREEAM Guidance – New Manual, New Challenges!

April 5th, 2018

The BREEAM approach has remained unchanged since 1998, but at long last this has been reviewed in line with current ecological best practice, taking account of current thinking on topics such as ecosystem services and biodiversity net gain.

The 2018 scheme went live on the 7th March, and the final date where projects could be registered under the 2014 scheme was the 23rd March. A number of credits have been rewritten, new credits have been brought in, and others lost. This brings new challenges for a number of disciplines as we all get to grips with these changes.

So what has changed?

The process has resulted in the development of four NEW core assessment issues for land use and ecology. The four new ‘Assessment Issues’ include:

> LE02 Identifying and Understanding Risks and Opportunities – This has resulted in more comprehensive requirements for demonstrating compliance.

> LE03 Management of Negative Impacts on Ecology – Focuses on minimising ecological damage and disruption and avoiding net loss in biodiversity, identifying solutions in line with the mitigation hierarchy

> LE04 Change and Enhancement of Ecological Value – Greater emphasis on improving connectivity and coverage of natural green space, protection of wildlife, improving health and wellbeing and increasing connection between people and the natural environment. This leads into a new requirement for off-site enhancement where on-site is not possible, to ensure net gain, taking account of the development of the Biodiversity Offsetting approach.

> LE05 Long-term Ecology Management and Maintenance – Encouragement of early liaison with stakeholders to identify appropriate long term management and maintenance options and identify clear commitments, roles and funding.

What Does this Mean for the Future of BREEAM Ecology Assessments?

It remains to be seen if this new guidance will achieve better results for biodiversity, as well as other sustainability targets such as health and well-being and climate resilience. However, it has been encouraging that a wide range of professional bodies, consultants, developers, designers and construction professionals have been involved to help shape an assessment approach that is more ‘fit for purpose’ for the current industry.