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Last edited 11 Jan 2021
BREEAM Site visits
- All bulleted text are assessor comments
BRE set no minimum for the number of site visits but the Operations manual does state ‘good practice suggests that between 2 and 3 site visits is appropriate as a minimum’. We asked assessors how many they do typically and then asked how many would be best to maximise sustainability on the project. These were the results (44 assessors):
|No of site visits||What assessors currently do||What assessors think is optimal|
You can see that assessors suggest three visits on average is optimal but 40% do less than this. Several said the optimal number was project specific:
- Depends on project
- The answer to this is dependent on the length of the construction
- It depends on (a) project complexity (b) project location (c) time availability due to workloads
- It all depends on the size of the project, when visits take place.
- How does the cost cover three or more site visits? My clients cannot afford that many site visits.
- For BREEAM there isn't a lot you cannot see at the end. Solenoid valves and insulation is about it - so how useful is an intermediate visit?
|Summary of barriers|
Looking at the results, around 57% of assessors listed cost as the main barrier which restricts the number of site visits for a project. Time, distance and access are also factors which affect/prevent a higher number of site visits taking place.
- Costs - client not wanting to pay
- Distance to site
- Contractor cooperation
- Access arrangements
- Not knowing when site will be ready
- Liability - if BREEAM assessors take on role of checking things are built to spec you open yourself up to being sued if you have missed anything - not our role and our insurance wouldn't cover it.
- Site induction and CSCS card requirement
- Hard to tell client that contractor has not delivered
- Timing several visits correctly
- Safety - Last stages of a project can be high risk from H&S perspective (lots of trades moving about site) and therefore contractors are reluctant to add to this mix
Distance – is collaboration a solution?
- Sometimes our sites are in other countries
- Location of site, can be four/five hours away and not accessible via train
- 'Frequent' site visits limit an assessor to where geographically assessments can be undertaken as travel time and costs will increase fees
- Distance problem? Team up with a local Assessor
- It’s hard to quote fees for site visits with new clients as you don’t know if they will be great at BREEAM or novices and require further hand holding and visits
- Clients are against it because of costs
- If a client is against it then surely those are the sites that DEFINITELY need visits - and more of them?
- Optional fees can be charged for additional visits
- Well trained junior consultants (at a lower cost) are often used on less complex projects
- Being AP as well as Assessor helps as you can combine site visits to help with costs.
 Tips – what makes a difference?
- Support from the client during construction that the BREEAM certification is important and needs to remain on the agenda throughout construction.
- Find among the people in the contractor team the one who is willing to do something more for our environment. Once you identified that person, things go much better.
- Having a 'sustainability champion' or trained Assessor on site/part of the contractors team
 Minimise paperwork
- Be careful not to overwhelm with paperwork
- Realistically, more paper work could mean more unread paperwork. I think it is crucial to name the people that are responsible at all levels for BREEAM implementation.
- You need to absolutely minimise at all costs the paperwork you give to site staff. When you first meet them, find out what they already do in their own site checking procedures and take natural advantage of what evidence they gather on a regular basis – such as asking for an occasional email from them with relevant progress photographs OR simply ask to be included on their site progress reporting emails. For them an email is easy but a form to fill is GOING to be avoided.
 Actively Engage
- Project teams only care about delivery and they need a push from Assessors.
- Get talking to the site manager from the get-go and keep calling every so often so that she/he knows WHO you are and WHAT you are about. Then when you meet it will be as two colleagues seeking a common goal.
- Fully informing the site manager is key
- Identifying the design team/contractors is important. AP's/Assessors are more likely a lot faster in telling specialists the exact information they require, rather than relying on the client. An example would be contacting the glazing specialist yourself and being concise about the evidence required
- Regular phone discussion with site agent
- The regular issuing of trackers (with useful notes) to remind them of their requirements and commitments
- Ensure that your regular Site Report or Job Report goes under the nose of the Client or Client's Representative AND the Project Manager AND the Site Foreman AND the Contractor’s Project Manager - as demonstration of your value and as a snapshot of what has been independently witnessed on site and as a key indication of both ‘warnings’ and what is needed in order to comply.
- One problem: we need to be considered as partners, not as inspectors when visiting the site. It helps.
- Feedback to client immediately after site visit is key too and then you can write up the report in the meantime.
 Educate where you can
- It is important to raise awareness of the whole team at the beginning of site works, so that BREEAM is in the site works weekly agenda even if we are not here
- Toolbox meetings for the people working on site so everyone know what the aims are and not only the site manager. The contractor has to see the workers are getting excited about the issues ;-)
- MEP engineers can have access to even more areas than assessors - they might have permission to go to areas of site where assessors might not have
- MEP engineers do site visits and can take photos for us assessors
- Make sure there will be access to all areas in advance
- Phone the site manager - they don't always respond to an email
- Ensure person showing around the site actually knows the site well for example location of site water meters etc.
 Site visits are a good way to get robust evidence
- Hardly any Clients pay for As Built drawings - even on high-spec schemes
- In general, site visit would be the most efficient way to get robust evidence. Compared to evidence gathering.
 Builds experience and credibility
- More and more site visits builds up hands-on experience. Competitive assessors could possibly sell this experience to their clients
- If complying with the BREEAM issues can bring something more exciting than the usual building works, the contractor seems sometimes likely to go far for it. We have to communicate well about the environmental benefits for all
- Agree, I often wish I had time (money!) to put something together at the end with their certificate - like well done, you've saved the equivalent of driving round the world 5 times in CO2 and enough water to fill, something to at least put some (light hearted) realism in to what that certificate means..
- Brilliant idea! That would make it such a tangible benefit
 Site visit checklists
 Master checklists
- A general checklist is easy for BRE to create and applicable to all jobs. The one's I've created previously extracted the necessary photos/site evidence from BRE guidance, in Excel format so comments could be added at each site visit (including photo references to help QA audits).
- You can have a master checklist for the use of assessors which can be filtered if responsibilities are assigned so it can generate sub lists for distribution to different team members
- I think it’s really important that the lists are specific to the job and not generic, extracting relevant information from the design and using this information in the checklists is essential
- Prepare before hand - ensure you know what site relevant credits have been targeted and prepare the site manager for what you will be looking for.
- Any half decent assessor should have their own checklist / Site inspection report
- General checklists adds to the "BREEAM is only a tick box" effect
- Internally, we tried a lot to do some standard checklist, but finally there are always too many specificities for each project, even simple projects
- I agree, the contractor always point the generalities you may have left in the checklist and says it doesn't apply to the project, so it introduces doubts about the quality of the entire checklist...
 Checklists for the site manager
- I find that producing an on-site checklist is really useful. We produce these for site managers (as these aren't often involved heavily with the BREEAM) outlining the items we typically need to see on site e.g. labelled refuse store and the things they need to make sure they're doing e.g. monitoring water/energy etc.
- We provide the checklist either in person at the pre-contract meeting or as a report followed up with a phone call to the site manager.
- A standalone checklist for site manager's to make them aware of what has been agreed at design. Often the site manager is are not aware of what the design manager has put in their commitment letters!
- Often we get info that is created just for BREEAM but then not passed onto the site team and therefore it can't be achieved at PCR stage.
- The assessment can often go wrong when the site manager is not aware
- When I have BREEAM review meetings on site, I usually ask the site manager to be there.
- The site visit list should mention the NAME of the PERSON responsible for each item. Otherwise it comes out to be a "we'll care for that"
- A checklist with defined responsibilities
- A well laid out checklist for each project team member
- I’ve found a tracker showing the whole evidence required and who is responsible puts the relevant team members off. They just want to know their own contribution
- Any checklist should indicate what is mandatory to photograph
- Things we expect to see on site (in line with design stage evidence)... i.e. labelled refuse store AND things the site manager should be doing i.e. monitoring site water and recording this data and displaying these on site, it’s important to get all relevant PCR items down in one list and given to the appropriate people i.e. those who are responsible for doing it
- Take a template of the report - credits targeted and any specifics of what we are looking for. Then always take lots of general photos in case you have missed something off
 Checklist Tips
Prepare a list of things you need to see on site in advance and send it to the contractor prior to the visit - the site visit is more organised and the contractor can tell you in advance if something won't be available to see
- I think a checklist is great and instead of being seen a 'box ticking' exercise it can be seen as a schedule for the contractor to use to ensure the final visit is well timed
- If the contractor participates in creating the list he will be more willing to follow the items.
- Key is knowing your project thoroughly before you visit the site, and writing up the report as soon as possible so you haven't missed anything
 Checklist support
- Guidance in the BREEAM manual re: what needs to be witnessed/ photographed at each site visit - this would be particularly useful for those newly qualified under NC 2014 as little guidance is given.
 Site visit kit list
- Archisnapper (software)
- BREEAM associate - if one on client team
- BREEAM Tracker tool
- Checklist of photos to take
- Copy of Design Stage report
- Copy of ecology and day-lighting reports
- Design drawings
- Design specification
- Floor plans
- Highlighter pen
- HVAC, DHW, Lighting drawings/schematics
- Laser measure
- Marked up drawings with photo locations
- Measuring tape
- Person with keys to access all areas
- Software for taking notes (Evernote, Microsoft one, Dalux Field)
- Site plans
- Voice recorder
--Multiple Author Article 16:28, 19 Apr 2018 (BST)
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