Last edited 11 Jan 2021

BREEAM Site visits

The following is a write up of the BREEAM Assessors online workshop in July 2019 regarding many different aspects of site visits

  • All bulleted text are assessor comments


[edit] Frequency and barriers

[edit] Frequency

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
1 6 4
2 12 8
3 12 12
4 4 7
4+ 10 13
Average 3 3.39

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:

There are clearly some barriers to carrying out several site visits and some assessors consider a single visit at the end has benefits

[edit] Barriers

We asked assessors what were the main barriers preventing site visits taking place? The results were as follows:

Summary of barriers
Access 2
Cost 24
Time 9
Distance 6
Other 1

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.

Typical Barriers to site visits:

Distance – is collaboration a solution?


  • 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.

[edit] Tips – what makes a difference?

[edit] Get the client’s support

[edit] 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.

[edit] Actively Engage

[edit] Educate where you can

[edit] Site access tips

[edit] 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.

[edit] Builds experience and credibility

[edit] General Benefits

  • 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

[edit] Share best practice

[edit] Site visit checklists

[edit] 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

[edit] Project specific checklists

  • 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...

[edit] Checklists for the site manager

[edit] Qualities of a good checklist

  • 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

[edit] 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

[edit] 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.

[edit] Site visit kit list

BRE Global does not endorse any of the content posted and use of the content will not guarantee the meeting of certification criteria.

--Multiple Author Article 16:28, 19 Apr 2018 (BST)

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