Just as sustainable design and construction are important in realising sustainable engineering projects, sustainable operation is critical to make sure that high levels of sustainability performance are maintained across the lifecycle of the infrastructure.

Sustainable operation therefore enables the best sustainability outcomes to be achieved. BREEAM Infrastructure (formerly CEEQUAL) supports sustainable operation by encouraging projects to strategically consider the product’s operation lifespan.


Talk to us about Sustainable Operation

Why sustainable operation matters


Whilst sustainable design and construction are important in ensuring projects are engineered to high standards, sustainable operation is critical in making sure sustainability is maximised across a built asset’s lifespan. Once an asset is completed and handed over, the project team can no longer influence its sustainability performance. However, by considering sustainable operation at opportune times during the project, project teams can maximise the asset’s ability to perform at high sustainability standards during its use.

Indeed, by strategically considering the use and management of an asset after construction is completed, sustainable operation can be achieved, enabling projects to leave a legacy of sustainable performance. This helps drive and highest standards, whilst consideration of operation is also important in achieving the best BREEAM Infrastructure ratings.

How BREEAM Infrastructure supports sustainable operation


Across BREEAM Infrastructure’s eight categories, numerous assessment criteria encourage consideration of sustainability at the appropriate times to drive sustainable operation. Explore how BREEAM Infrastructure encourages sustainable operation 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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 1.1 Sustainability leadership: sets targets for the project’s environmental and social performance during operation and puts in place a monitoring programme for the operational phase
  • 1.2 Environmental management: ensures operational plans are in place for environmental management



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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 2.1 Risk assessment and mitigation: considers risks and disruptive events that might impact the asset during its operation and considers how these might be mitigated by operational activities
  • 2.2 Flooding and surface water run off: considers risks of flooding during the assets operational life and how best to mitigate these risks
  • 2.3 Future needs: considers how best to meet changing operational needs in the future


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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 3.1 Consultation and engagement: stakeholders are consulted on how the project might impact them during operation and their feedback is collected and acted upon
  • 3.2 Wider social benefits: consideration is given to wider social benefits and impacts on the human environment of the project during operation and actions taken accordingly to mitigate or amplify these effects
  • 3.3 Wider economic benefits: actions taken to minimise negative economic impacts and maximise economic benefits during operation


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 operation principles construction in the following assessment issues:

  • 4.2 Land contamination and remediation: encourages remedial solutions and requirements to be considered and communicated for the asset’s operation
  • 4.5 Long-term management of biodiversity: encourages production of landscape and ecology plans that cover the project’s operation


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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 5.1 Landscape and visual impact: encourages production of long-term management plans to define and establish actions taken to manage landscape during operation
  • 5.2 Heritage assets: design ensures protection of heritage assets



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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 6.1 Water pollution: measures taken to reduce and mitigate pollution and damage to the water environment during operation  incorporation into design of measures to prevent and control water pollution
  • 6.2 Air, noise and light pollution: measures taken to reduce and mitigate pollution and negative impacts caused by noise, air and light during operation



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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 7.1 Strategy for resource efficiency: sets policies and targets for resource efficiency in operation
  • 7.2 Reducing whole life carbon emissions: carbon management plans in place that cover operational carbon
  • 7.4 Circular use of construction products: consideration given to long-term operational maintenance and future disassembly or de-construction
  • 7.7 Energy use: action taken to reduce energy and carbon in operation, whist incorporating opportunities for renewables and low/zero carbon energy within the operation scheme
  • 7.8 Water use: actions taken to reduce water consumption during operation



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 operation principles in the following assessment issues:

  • 8.1 Transport networks: action taken to deliver enhanced operation transport outcomes


BREEAM Infrastructure and Sustainability

Go back to our sustainability page to learn how the BREEAM Infrastructure aligns with and supports sustainability.

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Sustainable Energy, Water, and Waste Case Studies

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