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The Green Guide to Specification: Past, Present & Future

If you’re familiar or unfamiliar with The Green Guide to Specification, here are some facts about the history of this important publication, and what the future holds..

GG Editions
From the 1st Edition in 1996 through to the 4th Edition in 2008

The Green Guide Past.

  • Green Guide to Specification first published in 1996: 125 elements across 9 categories.
  • Green Guide Ratings available were A, B, & C. Where A = “good” and C = “poor”.
  • Both the summary ratings and impact category ratings published, in addition to costs and replacement intervals (typical service lives).
  • Only commercial building types were assessed at this stage.
  • 2nd Edition (1998): 205 element specifications across 12 categories.
  • The Green Guide to Housing Specification (2000) – an additional publication created to allow the Ratings to be used in the Code for Sustainable Homes, EcoHomes, & BREEAM Domestic schemes: 147 element specifications across 10 categories (and 17 sub-categories).
  • The 1999 BRE LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) Methodology (also called a Product Category Rules – PCR – document) underpinned the next edition of the Green Guide, in addition to the BRE Global Environmental Profiles Certification Scheme for manufacturers.
  • 3rd Edition (2002): 300 element specifications across 13 categories (and 22 sub-categories).
  • A to C Ratings were utilised to gain credits within the Materials sections of BREEAM.
  • The 2008 BRE LCA Methodology (PCR) was developed to further the science of LCA in the construction sector. The BRE Environmental Profiles Certification Scheme transitioned to this new method for all clients.
  • 4th Edition (2009): 1662 element specifications across 9 categories (and 54 sub-categories).
  • The 4th Edition broadened the applicability of the Ratings to 6 building types: Domestic, Commercial, Education, Retail, Health, and Industrial.
  • Green Guide Ratings were further broken down into the A+ to E bands for greater specificity of comparison.


In the Present.

  • All of the generic Green Guide Ratings are published online, accessible for free, at
  • The results of the Environmental Profiles Certification Scheme; certificates and Green Guide Ratings are published online, accessible for free, at
  • Licensed BREEAM Assessors have access to the Green Guide Calculator Online Tool, where new specifications can be built up from a wide variety of components, and new Ratings calculated.
  • The release of the EN 15804:2012 European Standard for PCR development, has enabled the development of more compatible schemes and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD or Environmental Profiles). Providing a wider geographic applicability for a single document.
  • The BRE EN 15804 Scheme is currently running along side the Environmental Profiles Scheme, and will eventually supersede it.
  • BRE’s LCA data feeds into online tools and BIM (Building Information Modelling) software to model environmenal impacts at the whole building level. E.g. IMPACT-compliant software or the Sustainable Fitout Tool Allows environmental impacts to be assessed at the design stage.


The Future: What’s in Store?

  • A new Verified Life Cycle Assessment Software Tool. Streamlining of the process and providing greater control over the data.
  • From 2021 ‪‎BREEAM will no longer recognise The Green Guide to Specification. Current Ratings will remain valid, but new EPD will need to comply with EN 15804.
  • Digital is the future: LCA tools and whole building assessments. With a greater understanding of the methods & requirements, there will be multiple opportunities for the use of big data.