Last edited 16 Mar 2022

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An introduction to BREEAM


[edit] Introduction

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Environmental Assessment Method, first launched in the UK in 1990. It sets best practice standards for the environmental performance of buildings through design, specification, construction and operation.

BREEAM sets benchmarks for standard categories of development (such as offices, retail developments, education buildings and healthcare buildings) and offers a bespoke scheme for non-standard buildings. It can be applied to new developments or refurbishment projects, and international schemes exist for projects outside of the UK.

It allows clients, project teams and facilities managers to be certain that the required standard of environmental best practice is being adopted on their project. It can also be used as a marketing tool for potential purchasers or tenants.

Some clients may require the use of BREEAM.

The government’s Common Minimum Standards referred to in the Government Construction Strategy require that an environmental assessment is carried out on all public projects, and states that; '…where BREEAM is used, all new projects are to achieve an “excellent” rating….where an alternative environmental assessment methodology is used, projects should seek to achieve equivalent ratings.'

In addition, local planning authorities may require BREEAM certification (or equivalent) either as part of a local plan, or as a planning condition imposed on developments. This kind of requirement is likely to become more common given the presumption in favour of sustainability in the National Planning Policy Framework.

[edit] Assessments

BREEAM assessments are carried out by trained assessors based on a scoring system with nine criteria:

Each of the criteria is scored and then multiplied by a weighting. There are minimum thresholds that must be achieved, and additions can be made for specific innovations. The resulting overall score is translated into one of the BREEAM ratings; unclassified, pass, good, very good, excellent or outstanding.

Two stages of assessment and certification are typically carried out:

There is also an optional pre-assessment stage, which can help designers understand aspects of their proposals that need to be improved to achieve the desired rating. In addition, there is a BREEAM In-Use scheme which allows an action plan to be produced to improve the management and performance both of the building in use and of client activities within the completed building.

Whilst BREEAM dominates the UK market, alternative methods of environmental assessment include; Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in the USA, Greenstar in Australia, HQE in France and CASBEE in Japan. For more information see: Green rating systems.

[edit] Updates

In June 2012, a new BREEAM scheme for domestic refurbishment was introduced. As with other schemes, it allows domestic refurbishments to be assessed and rated on a range from pass to outstanding.

In October 2014, a BREEAM scheme for non-domestic refurbishment and fit-out was introduced in the UK and in June 2015, this also became an international scheme.

In November 2015, BRE announced their acquisition of CEEQUAL to enable the development of a new sustainability rating scheme for civil engineering and infrastructure projects. The was prompted by industry desire for a single sustainability rating scheme to address the challenge of delivering more sustainable and resilient infrastructure on the part of clients and contractors. For more information see BREEAM and CEEQUAL.


BREEAM USA logo web.png

On 9 June 2016, BRE announced the further expansion of BREEAM in partnership with BuildingWise, the award-winning US-based LEED certification consultancy, to create BREEAM USA.

There are currently 5.6 million commercial buildings in the US that are not benchmarking their sustainability efforts using a scientifically-based green building certification. The collaboration provides BRE with a platform on which to further develop BREEAM in the USA, where the focus will be on the BREEAM In-Use standard.

Gavin Dunn, Global Director of BREEAM, said: “BREEAM has massive potential in the USA – many of their existing buildings are not equipped for the future and underperform against their potential, wasting resources and unnecessarily impacting the environment. BREEAM USA will help us to address this. It also demonstrates the global value of BREEAM, which is further reinforced with the recent opening of our offices in China and Dubai.”

For more information, see BREEAM USA.

--BRE Group

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