How to obtain BREEAM credits for responsibly sourcing structural steelwork?

How to obtain BREEAM credits for responsibly sourcing structural steelwork?

Responsible sourcing of construction products is assessed under BREEAM Mat 03 under which up to 3 credits are achievable. Recognised schemes are listed in BREEAM Guidance Note GN18.

There are situations where a product/material specified by the design team (or chosen by the constructor) is certified at manufacture but is supplied by one or more organisations that have no relevant certification. This reduces the level of assurance because the chain-of-custody/traceability is broken (so-called ‘broken chain’). This would apply where a steelwork fabricator, without responsible sourcing certification, is using steel from a certified source, i.e. steel producer.

BREEAM therefore accepts that steelwork contractors do not need to have their own responsible sourcing certification provided that they are using a recognised quality management system and they are using steel from a certified source.

Responsible sourcing of construction products is assessed under BREEAM Mat 03 under which up to 3 credits are achievable. Credits are awarded as follows:

The scope of assessment of the superstructure is defined as:

To assess a building, the assessor has to establish the BREEAM-recognised responsible sourcing certifications scheme (RSCS) certification or environmental management system (EMS) certification, if any, relevant to each product/material within the scope.

Recognised schemes are listed in BREEAM Guidance Note GN18. GN18 lists the following schemes which are currently recognised by BREEAM and their scoring.

Where the construction product has no certification, is non-compliant with the broken chain (see below) requirements or the certification type is not listed in Guidance Note 18, the score is zero.

Broken chain
There are situations where a product/material (or constituent product/material) specified by the design team (or chosen by the constructor) is certified at manufacture but is supplied by one or more organisations that have no relevant certification. This reduces the level of assurance because the chain-of-custody/traceability is broken (so-called broken chain). For example, this would apply
where a steelwork fabricator, without responsible sourcing certification, is using material from a certified source.

To recognise responsible sourcing certification where it does exist in the supply chain, while reducing the risks associated with a broken chain, it is permissible to use the upstream certification score in the Mat 03 calculator where the downstream risk to responsible sourcing is considered to be low.

Specifically, it is acceptable for the following types of organisations in the supply chain (that are downstream of the organisation with certification) not to have their own responsible sourcing certification:

  1. Organisations that only handle or transport, or
  2. Organisations that only fabricate, assemble or install and are using a recognised quality management system to ensure the mixing and substitution of the certified upstream source with uncertified sources has not occurred, and
  3. Are operating in a jurisdiction that can demonstrate relatively robust and well enforced environmental, social and economic controls. For example:
  • States which are members of the EU,
  • States that have declared adherence to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

For the case of structural steel therefore, full benefit for responsible sourcing under BREEAM can be achieved as long as the steel producer is certified to a recognised responsible sourcing scheme (point 2 above) as long as they have a recognised quality management system in place. In the UK this is generally BES 6001 certification which the major steelwork suppliers to the UK market (British Steel, ArcelorMittal Long products Europe, Spartan UK and Tata Steel) currently have.

The full list of steel companies currently certified to BES 6001 can be seen here BRE Group: Responsible Sourcing League Tables