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Mat 06 Material efficiency

Number of credits available Minimum standards
1 No


To recognise and encourage measures to optimise material efficiency in order to minimise environmental impact of material use and waste.

Assessment criteria

The following is required to show compliance for:

One credit

  1. Opportunities have been identified, and appropriate measures investigated and implemented, to optimise the use of materials in building design, procurement, construction, maintenance and end of life ,
  2. The above is carried out by the design/construction team in consultation with the relevant parties (see CN3) at each of the following RIBA stages:
    1. Preparation and Brief
    2. Concept Design
    3. Developed Design
    4. Technical Design
    5. Construction.

Checklists and tables


Compliance notes




Shell and core


Applicable assessment criteria

Both options: All criteria relevant to the building type and function apply.

Refer to Appendix D – BREEAM UK New Construction and Shell and Core Project Assessments for a more detailed description of the above shell and core assessment options.

Simple buildings


Applicable assessment criteria All criteria relevant to the building type and function apply.


Relevant parties

All parties (as relevant to the project stage) involved in the design, specification and/or construction of the building should be consulted. This includes but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Client/developer
  2. Cost consultant
  3. Architect
  4. Structural/civil engineers
  5. Building services engineers - mechanical, electrical
  6. Principal contractor
  7. Demolition/strip-out contractor
  8. Environmental consultant
  9. Project management consultant
  10. Materials/component manufacturers/suppliers.


Evidence requirements

BRE has avoided being overly prescriptive with the evidence requirements for this issue, recognising that this is a complex environmental and design issue, where solutions and approaches are largely influenced by building specific factors. The evidence required to demonstrate compliance will vary according to RIBA stage. A few examples have been provided below:

  • reports (at Preparation and Brief stage) outlining the activity relating to material efficiency ( ideas discussed, analysis and decisions taken)
  • drawings or building information model (BIM), calculations showing reduction of material use through design (Concept Design/Developed Design stages)
  • meeting notes, construction program, responsibilities schedule (indicating parties consulted).

The BREEAM assessor should use their judgement in determining whether the aim and intent of the credit has been met using appropriate project information to back their judgement. BRE Global will endorse the BREEAM assessor's judgement through the Quality Assurance audit where a reasonable justification to award the credit on the basis of project team actions and proposed design solutions is evident.




Criteria Interim design stage Final post construction stage

One or more of the appropriate evidence types listed in The BREEAM evidential requirements section can be used to demonstrate compliance with these criteria.

Additional information

Relevant definitions

Material efficiency
The process of undertaking a building project to enable the most efficient use of materials over the life cycle of the building and its components. This includes using fewer materials, reusing existing demolition/strip-out materials and, where appropriate, procuring materials with higher levels of recycled content. It may also include the adoption of alternative means of design/construction that result in lower materials usage and lower wastage levels including off-site manufacture and use of pre-assembled service pods.

Other information

Optimising material use

The construction industry accounts for approximately 55% of the total annual materials consumption and buildings contribute 50% of total emissions of CO2e. They are also responsible for 30% of total UK water use and 35% of arising waste. The breakdown of global industrial carbon emissions shows that 55% comes from the manufacture and processing of five stock materials- steel (25%), cement (19%), paper (4%), plastic and aluminium (3%).

Optimising material use is one the key resource efficiency goals for any sustainability strategy. This involves various components to ensure efficient use of materials, waste prevention and reduction, minimal damage to the environment and depletion of natural resources. This new BREEAM issue aims to encourage and support efforts to reduce the amount of materials use in building design without compromising on the structural stability. BRE intends to further develop the assessment criteria for this issue in future updates of BREEAM and as such BRE would welcome any feedback on the application of this assessment issue to assist with the evolution of the criteria and inclusion of additional guidance on compliance in future BREEAM versions.

Tools to guide material efficiency strategies

The following provide frameworks for the consideration and review of resource efficiency in design and construction:

BS 8895 Designing for material efficiency in building projects

The standard outlines specific material efficiency processes, key tasks, team members and their responsibilities and outputs specific to each work stage, along with supporting guidance and tools. This serves as a useful tool to assist the design team in developing and implementing material efficiency strategies for their developments.

The standard is comprised of the following four parts:

Part 1: Code of practice for Strategic Definition and Preparation and Brief1BS 8895: Designing for material efficiency in building projects - Part1: Code of practice for Strategic Definition and Preparation and Brief. BSI, 2013 (published)

Part 2: Code of practice for concept and developed design2BS8895-2:2015 Designing for material efficiency in building projects- Part 2: Code of practice for concept design and developed design. BSI, 2015 (published)

Part 3: Code of practice for technical design (planned for development)

Part 4: Code of practice for operation, refurbishment (planned for development)


Designing out Waste: A design team guide for Buildings3 Designing out Waste: A design team guide for Buildings, WRAP.. This document outlines five principles of designing out waste and can be applied during design development, and serve as prompts for investigating opportunities for material efficiency in design.

BREEAM UK New Construction non-domestic buildings technical manual 2014
Reference: SD5076 – Issue: 5.0
Date: 23/08/2016
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