Sustainable construction is important as this is the where key sustainability principles and processes come to life in a project.
Sustainable construction is therefore crucial to realising the key sustainability goals of engineering projects and making sure that the principles embedded in design work are made reality. BREEAM Infrastructure’s (formerly CEEQUAL) works to drive sustainable construction best practice and improve performance across projects.
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Why sustainable construction matters
Sustainable construction matters because it is where sustainable ideas, designs and principles are turned into reality. This is where the physical work must be done to achieve the outcomes and sustainability goals that have been set. For example, a project must be constructed to meet the its set targets (e.g. carbon, energy or water use); the appropriate equipment must be set up to monitor and report on sustainability performance and targets; and any deviations from set targets must be recorded, reported and acted upon.
Additionally, construction in and of itself has long been recognised as a major source of emissions, pollution and waste. Sustainable construction is therefore critical in reforming the construction process to be more efficient, responsible and clean. Sustainable construction is therefore central to driving sustainable outcomes, as well as achieving high BREEAM Infrastructure scores.
How BREEAM Infrastructure supports sustainable construction
Three of BREEAM Infrastructure’s five assessment types directly assess the construction stage of projects: Whole Project; Design & Construction; and Construction only.
Across BREEAM Infrastructure’s eight categories, numerous assessment criteria encourage consideration of sustainability at the appropriate times to drive sustainable construction. Explore how BREEAM Infrastructure encourages sustainable construction across the BREEAM Infrastructure categories below:
The Management category considers how sustainability issues are incorporated into the overall management of the project. It covers the principles of sustainable development and the management of environmental and social performance throughout the planning, design and construction of a project.
The Management category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
- Sustainability leadership: ensuring that sustainable development principles and environmental and social issues are embedded in construction
- Environmental management: ensures social and environmental risks and opportunities are identified and managed during construction
- Responsible construction management: avoids adverse effects on neighbours and local communities during construction
- Staff and supply chain social governance: ensures ethical labour practices during construction
- Whole life costing: ensures adoption of whole life costing principles in construction
The resilience category encourages proactive hazard identification, risk evaluation and risk management for the asset and infrastructure system within which it sits. Issues including assessing and mitigating risks from natural hazards, intentional threats, and climate change plus designing for future needs. The section considers risks to the asset and its dependencies and consequently the required asset resilience. Specific environmental risks resulting from the asset’s construction and operation are covered separately in Pollution.
The Resilience category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
2.1 Risk assessment and mitigation: ensures risks associated with construction are identified, assessed, communicated and addressed
Communities and stakeholders
This category addresses issues regarding the wider social and economic effects of a project on local communities and other relevant stakeholders who might be impacted directly or indirectly by a project’s delivery or operation. It covers initial and subsequent engagement and consultation on the proposed project through inception, design and construction – and how it might impact on wider community issues – to maximise the wider social and economic benefits that a project can achieve.
The Communities and stakeholders category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
- Consultation and engagement: encourages engagement and responsiveness to communities and stakeholders during construction
- Wider social benefits: ensures that construction management involves links with wider society, and implementation of measures to achieve wider social benefits, whilst negative social impacts during construction are managed
- Wider economic benefits: encourages involvement of local firms in construction work
Land use and ecology
This category promotes the reuse of previously disturbed land so minimising negative impacts on biodiversity and the natural environment generally. It promotes outcomes that enhance ecological value through protection and enhancement of habitat in support of biodiversity whilst also promoting the enhancement of associated social and health value wherever possible.
The Land use and ecology category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
- Land use and value: encourages construction teams to make effective use of land resources
- Protection of biodiversity: encourages construction teams to protect biodiversity and minimise negative ecological impacts
- Change and enhancement of biodiversity: encourages construction to enhance biodiversity and provide new habitats
Landscape and historic environment
This category encourages consideration of the landscape and associated heritage features within and surrounding a project site. It aims to protect and enhance both landscape character and heritage assets where present. Aesthetic value and visual impact of a project are addressed as well as actions taken to protect and enhance the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Landscape and historic environment category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
- Landscape and visual impact: ensures that construction avoids damage to landscape and vegetation
This category promotes actions that address and minimise air, water and noise pollution resulting from the construction and operation of the asset. It focusses on carrying out risk assessments, developing and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies, and monitoring the effectiveness of the mitigation measures to maximise their outcomes.
The Pollution category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
- Water pollution: ensures that impacts on the water environment during construction are controlled, preventing pollution, protecting existing water features and monitoring water quality during construction
- Air, noise and light pollution: ensures construction’s impacts on neighbours are controlled and mitigated to minimise nuisance
This category promotes prudent and responsible use of all physical resources including materials, energy and water. It focuses on reducing whole life impacts from resource use by encouraging consideration of the environmental impacts of design, construction, and operation throughout the life of the asset. The category encourages users to evaluate resource use within the context of the circular economy, taking actions that are focused on reducing waste in accordance with the waste hierarchy.
The Resources category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
- Strategy for resource efficiency: ensures that the efficient use of energy, water and materials is embedded in construction
- Reducing whole life carbon emissions: ensures carbon emissions are managed, reported and minimised in construction
- Environmental impact of construction products: minimising environmental impact by constructing with low impact materials, and applying low impact and/or biodegradable coatings and treatments
- Circular use of construction products: ensuring a materials register is produced during construction to support future recycling of materials during disassembly, as per circular principles
- Responsible sourcing of construction products: ensures construction products are sourced responsibly
- Construction waste management: ensures hazardous construction materials and managed appropriately, and encourages diversion of waste from landfill
- Energy use: encourages reduction of energy use and uptake of renewables and low-carbon energy during construction
- Water use: seeks to minimise embodied water in construction materials, capture water run-off, and minimise water consumption during construction
This category encourages the effective management of transport impacts from all modes of transport both during construction and as operation impacts. Transport impacts considered include the movement of construction materials and waste, construction workforce transport, as well as disruption to other users of the transport network during the life of the asset. An emphasis is placed on designing out transport impacts wherever possible and consultation with the local community to create opportunities for an integrated transport system.
The Transport category encourages sustainable construction principles in the following assessment issues:
8.2 Construction logistics: reduces carbon emissions and negative impacts related to transport movements and diversions associated with construction work
BREEAM Infrastructure and Sustainability
Go back to our sustainability page to learn how BREEAM Infrastructure aligns with and supports sustainability.