BREEAM: The Next Generation
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.
In December 2020, BRE entered the early stages of updating the BREEAM programme. While this project has been in development for some time, the journey towards the next generation of BREEAM officially began in 2020 with a series of interactive webinars.
Dr Shamir Ghumra, Head of Building Performance Services at BRE presented an update on the status of the current version of BREEAM, which has been in place for 30 years. He summarised the early days of the standard and reviewed a list of steady accomplishments that have been achieved around the world.
He also recognised the need to be responsive towards the changes coming to the built environment. “We have to be bold and more ambitious than we’ve ever been before,” he added, putting forward plans to replicate the accomplishments of the past 30 years in a compressed time frame of just three years.
The compelling nature of this goal is part of the motivation behind plans to revise the standard in preparation for 2050. Aspects of the next generation of BREEAM may have already been in place in certain instances, but adopting the successful components moving forward will be part of the outcome of the learning process.
With the plans for continued growth, there is a need for "confidence in the future," Dr Ghumra acknowledges, "while giving the market confidence in terms of what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, and how it can all connect into other drivers that increasingly, many of our customers are being asked to demonstrate in terms of creating value in the whole continuum."
The interoperable aspects of BREEAM will be part of its evolution, based on the speed at which digitisation within the industry will be adopted. Five influential factors are also expected to change the way people live and conduct business:
- Rapid urbanisation.
- Climate change and resource scarcity.
- Shifts in global economic power.
- Demographic and social change.
- Technological breakthroughs.
The future of BREEAM will be designed as a framework that can respond to the move towards net zero with a sense of resilience and an awareness of social impact. Much of this will depend on the quality of data that will be collected, leveraged and woven into the fabric of BREEAM, resulting in better quality decision making, outcomes and insights.
In the next portion of the session, Charlene Clear, Head of Products and Services stated that none of the proposed concepts are concrete at this stage, but they come after a year of gathering information and getting an understanding of market trends behind any initial proposals that would be put forward. It serves as a solid foundation based on four key themes:
- Impact - taking holistic asset sustainability performance and moving towards data driven benchmarking and insights.
- Scope - while almost any type of project is currently within scope, the goal is to move towards integration with whole life performance at scale (campus, site, portfolio and so on).
- Services - the current programme offers binary registration and then certification, but in the future, there is the hope for dynamic assurance services beyond certification (confidence through verification).
- Operations - there is some degree of digitisation as a method of servicing users now available, but the goal is to move towards a connected, beautifully designed digital platform.
She then shared projections for the next generation of BREEAM which would be based on high quality data that supports benchmarking and insights. The results would ideally produce assured whole life sustainability performance for projects. Measurement, monitoring and continuous improvement would also be part of BREEAM’s next iteration, but additional focus will be put on objective setting, resulting in a higher level of confidence in outcomes.
Clear put forward several concepts that would be part of the implementation, starting with the creation of a concise definition of sustainability within BREEAM. This begins with a proposed redefinition of sustainability under BREEAM across seven categories (both as performance indicators in stages and through the whole life of the asset):
Net zero carbon and social impact are also considered key components of the next generation of BREEAM. Both have been examined in detail in the Building Back Better initiative launched by BRE in 2020.
For more information, see:
- Building back better with BREEAM
- Building Back Better: Net zero carbon
- BREEAM and Building Back Better: Social impact.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BRE articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- BREEAM Wiki.
- Building Back Better: Net zero carbon and BREEAM.
- Building Back Better: Resilience.
- Building Back Better: Social impact.
- Building back better with BREEAM.
- Building performance.
- Net zero carbon 2050.
- Review of Industry Digitisation.
- UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Issue support documents
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Issue support documents are written for named BREEAM Issues or sub-issues. More info. (ac) = awaiting content.
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- BREEAM Sustainability champion
- BREEAM Environmental management
- BREEAM Considerate construction
- BREEAM Monitoring of construction site impacts
- BREEAM Aftercare support
- BREEAM Seasonal commissioning
- BREEAM Testing and inspecting building fabric
- BREEAM Life cycle cost and service life planning
- BREEAM Stakeholder consultation (ac)
- BREEAM Commissioning (ac)
- BREEAM Handover (ac)
- BREEAM Inclusive and accessible design (ac)
- BREEAM Post occupancy evaluation
 Health and Wellbeing
- BREEAM Visual comfort Daylighting (partly ac)
- BREEAM Visual comfort View out
- BREEAM Visual comfort Glare control
- BREEAM Indoor air quality plan
- BREEAM Indoor air quality Ventilation
- BREEAM Thermal comfort
- BREEAM Internal and external lighting (ac)
- BREEAM Indoor pollutants VOCs (ac)
- BREEAM Potential for natural ventilation (ac)
- BREEAM Safe containment in laboratories (ac)
- BREEAM Acoustic performance
- BREEAM Safety and security (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of energy use and carbon emissions
- BREEAM Energy monitoring
- BREEAM External lighting
- BREEAM Low carbon design
- BREEAM Passive design
- BREEAM Free cooling
- BREEAM LZC technologies
- BREEAM Energy efficient cold storage (partly ac)
- BREEAM Energy efficient transportation systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient laboratory systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient equipment (partly ac)
- BREEAM Drying space
- BREEAM Transport assessment and travel plan
- BREEAM Public transport accessibility
- BREEAM Sustainable transport measures
- BREEAM Proximity to amenities
- BREEAM Cyclist facilities
- BREEAM Alternative modes of transport (ac)
- BREEAM Maximum car parking capacity
- BREEAM Travel plan
- BREEAM Home office (ac)
- BREEAM Water consumption
- BREEAM Water efficient equipment
- BREEAM Water monitoring
- BREEAM Water leak detection (ac)
- BREEAM Hard landscaping and boundary protection
- BREEAM Responsible sourcing of materials
- BREEAM Insulation
- BREEAM Designing for durability and resilience
- BREEAM Life cycle impacts
- BREEAM Material efficiency (ac)
- BREEAM Construction waste management
- BREEAM Recycled aggregates
- BREEAM Speculative floor & ceiling finishes
- BREEAM Adaptation to climate change
- BREEAM Operational waste
- BREEAM Functional adaptability (ac)
 Land Use and Ecology
- BREEAM Site Selection
- BREEAM Ecological value of site
- BREEAM Protection of ecological features
- BREEAM Minimising impact on existing site ecology
- BREEAM Enhancing site ecology
- BREEAM Long term impact on biodiversity (ac)
- BREEAM Impact of refrigerants
- BREEAM NOx emissions
- BREEAM Flood risk management (ac)
- BREEAM Surface water run-off (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of night time light pollution (partly ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of noise pollution
Once an ISD has been initially created the '(ac)' marker can be removed
This particular index is based around the structure of the New Construction and RFO schemes.