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BREEAM Responsible Sourcing of Materials | A Guide

October 21, 2021

Sustainability and building compliance expert. Specialising in low energy design, SAP, SBEM, BREEAM, and air testing for the construction industry,

Andrew Sadler



To make sure you secure your BREEAM Outstanding rating, it’s essential for you to consider the responsible sourcing of materials for the development of your build.

It’s safe to say that the responsible sourcing of materials is a highly debated topic in the sustainable construction industry. Responsible sourcing involves companies across the world taking a voluntary commitment to consider social and environmental elements when managing relationships with suppliers. It is now also a key part of the BREEAM certification and something we all have to consider when building our next developments.

What is the BREEAM responsible sourcing of materials? It is a part of the BREEAM certification and helps the construction industry to recognise and encourage the use of responsibility sourced materials for key building elements.

The BREEAM certification is a huge topic and we could talk about it all day, so let’s dive into the Responsible Sourcing element of BREEAM in this blog!

What is responsible sourcing in BREEAM?

Responsible sourcing looks into a range of sustainability issues across many different areas such as supply chains to make sure the construction industry is taking into consideration risks to the environment, socio-economic impacts of any product or material used in developments. 

BREEAM, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, has now introduced responsible sourcing into its requirements and is accessed using responsible sourcing credentials of products using responsible certification schemes. With the BREEAM credentials, developers and clients can both be assured that the building created does not have a negative impact and is not harming the planet. 

However, there are now a growing number of responsible sourcing certification schemes and each has specific needs and issues relating to their sectors so it can get a little confusing. To combat this, BREEAM has recognised that there is a need to differentiate between schemes on the basis of scope and rigour in the industry. This would be based on an evaluation criteria relating to the stakeholder engagement, certification rigour, scope and transparency. 

The list of responsible sourcing certification schemes recognised under BREEAM.

Independently certified Environmental Management System (EMS) are recognised to a degree as they partially comply with the BREEAM evaluation criteria. However, it is crucial that teams ensure they are using the latest version when carrying out assessments. 

Examples of schemes recognised by the BREEAM standard are:

We recommend doing your research to find which one suits your upcoming development best, but if you do need help, here at Buildpass, we can help guide you in the right direction. Just send us an email or give us a call!

How can you calculate the proportion of responsibly sourced materials in a project?

There’s a few different routes available for you to consider when calculating the proportion of responsibility sourced materials in a project. 

  1. Detailed information on quantities of materials is not readily available.

In this route, the first step would be to identify all the location/use categories in the building. This includes areas such as ceilings, floors, windows, structure and much more. Once these are identified, you need to name the materials used in these locations and to make sure you are extremely thorough, you need to  break down components into constituent materials such as break windows down into frames and glazing.

  1. Where a more detailed analysis is possible due to the availability of more details on material quantities and associated supply chains.

The same locations/use and materials categories are used from 1, but this time, actual quantities are needed for the calculations. 

  1. This is a combination of 1 and 2 where details on quantities are only available for some of the materials. 

It is possible to also combine 1 and 2 outcomes depending on the information available.

How can you achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating?

A building needs to achieve a score of 85% or above to secure a BREEAM outstanding rating. The BREEAM accreditation is determined on areas of development such as energy, transport, health and wellbeing, pollution and of course, includes the responsible sourcing of materials! The more credits you get, the better! 

If you need some inspiration to get you motivated and to guide you in the right direction, take a look at Canary Wharf, Europe’s biggest Passivhaus. The project is targeting the BREEAM Outstanding Standards and is set to become a sustainable global leader. Basically, it’s going to be a very big deal and a build that we should all aspire to. 

How can Buildpass help me with the responsible sourcing of materials?

We are proud to say that we are experts in all areas of sustainable construction and  do have huge experience on BREEAM projects across the UK. We are happy to help with energy, transport, flood risk and much more. If you’d like to understand a little more about the process and how you can obtain your BREAAM Outstanding rating, book in for a call today!

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