Early BREEAM stakeholder engagement
Ask BREEAM Assessors or Accredited Professionals (AP) what makes the biggest single difference on a BREEAM project, and they will often answer "get in early". This article summarises comments from industry stakeholders familiar with BREEAM projects about what helps in engaging early with stakeholders.
 The challenges
BREEAM is often considered too late:
- It’s all about early engagement.
- On most of our current projects, appointment has been late stage 2 or nearly stage 3.
- Unfortunately we are usually appointed after Stage 2 as well.
- Often we are brought on board later in the design process and opportunities to achieve credits linked to early stakeholder engagement have already been missed.
- Always depends on how well the client is prepared to engage with BREEAM and sometimes BREEAM gets bolted on at the end of a multi-disciplinary project.
- Awareness amongst clients/developers is key. If we're not appointed/already in discussions early on we can’t advise.
Who is the project lead?
- All depends on who is running the project - if an Architect lead then generally assessors/APs get appointed early - if Contractor led it can be a late appointment.
- Contractor appointments in D&B contacts are usually too late for the early BREEAM credits.
- If Contractor led - can be late appointment - this scenario generally only happens because the Client’s team delays making a decision on where to shift the BREEAM Assessor appointment on to.
- Clients rely on their design teams and consultants but do not speak to / involve contractors early enough to discuss buildability.
- It often falls on us contactor side assessors to 'fix' where other assessor organisations/DTs have dropped the ball often including unrealistic, contractor heavy targets which are often linked to costly retainers.
- BREEAM sometimes just gets pushed back, forgotten about.
 Suggested solutions
Pre assessment and early meetings:
- Complete a tailored pre assessment and arrange a start-up meeting.
- Hold a BREEAM pre-assessment workshop.
- Always hold a pre-assessment workshop as early as you can so each item is in the mind of the designers.
- Always try and get in a pre-assessment workshop as early as possible -
- Early as possible kick off meeting and run through a pre-assessment highlighting key items, mandatory credits, those with RIBA requirements, pitfalls to watch out for, quick and early wins, evidence examples, time frames, deadlines etc.
- Discussing about the topic with the Client team from day one. Setting high aspirations and sharing the project's visions with them. This enables them to get on board with some of the key/high-level concepts that the design team is envisioning to implement in the project.
- Explaining the benefits of early consultations and developing a robust brief can help.
- We all assume engagement means two way conversation. I often find that early 'engagement' is very one way and because of that try to manage the processes instead of waiting for things to happen.
- I think it is the BREEAM Professional’s responsibility to drive the BREEAM process and engage the team. We allow for quite few meeting in our fees.
- Talking about early stage credits that are so important to get the score higher means they like support earlier on.
RIBA plan of work:
- A meeting with the Project Manager to discuss the RIBA Stage Plan of Work is useful, as this document clearly shows the process that should be adopted on projects.
- Meeting with PMs to discuss deliverables for each RIBA Stage.
- Design teams typically accept that something is important if it come from a non BREEAM (independent) perspective so using RIBA Plan of Work document helps.
- Provide scenarios with credits/opportunities being lost as RIBA stages progress, during pre-assessment workshop, in line with the RIBA timeline.
- Quantify the percentage of credits that can be secured or missed before RIBA stage 2 (for example). Helps focus team on cost of later substitution.
- For international projects, it is sometimes difficult to "translate" RIBA stages into a specific country stage.
- The RIBA process for consultation can be difficult to adopt on projects where there are repeat projects and where there is an established developer specification. Here is it helpful to have a file note that explains how changes have been developed for a specific site.
- RIBA process doesn't work well at all with large schemes.
- RIBA also doesn’t work with NHS & other Framework agreements.
Have a BREEAM AP on the project:
- Project Brief (RIBA 1) might not include BREEAM objectives, but by Concept Design the BREEAM AP should have made BREEAM a key objective for the project team.
- Have a BREEAM AP Stage 1 meeting.
- You can't rely on in-house developer APs being on all projects, but we're a pretty good way of making sure clients reach out to engage assessors at the appropriate time.
Value – making a case:
Local planning guidelines:
- If BREEAM is a planning condition we normally get brought in at the start of the project as a pre assessment is required for planning.
- Planning Authorities stipulating BREEAM in their conditions need to make applicants more aware of the need for early engagement, but I'm not sure how much the BRE really do to make planning departments understand their scheme, or perhaps the planners just don't listen.
- Agree that if planning conditions in relation to BREEAM were consistent and advised centrally, then there would be a lot less confusion amongst authorities.
- By the time something goes into planning you're not early stage enough anyway, and it's not planning's responsibility to drive a project.
- Embed in Client's own procurement guidance and procedures.
- Be able to convince the client that for his next project he would save money by engaging the assessor sooner (higher efficiency of the BREEAM measures to be taken to get the rating).
- It is down to educating project teams which I suspect will only happen by experience. i.e. they fail to get credits on an assessment and it goes as a lessons learnt item onto the next project.
--Multiple Author Article 15:18, 15 May 2018 (BST)
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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)
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 Health and Wellbeing
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- BREEAM Drying space
- BREEAM Transport assessment and travel plan
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- BREEAM Alternative modes of transport (ac)
- BREEAM Maximum car parking capacity
- BREEAM Travel plan
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- BREEAM Water consumption
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- BREEAM Water monitoring
- BREEAM Water leak detection (ac)
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 Land Use and Ecology
- BREEAM Site Selection
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- BREEAM Protection of ecological features
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- BREEAM Enhancing site ecology
- BREEAM Long term impact on biodiversity (ac)
- BREEAM Impact of refrigerants
- BREEAM NOx emissions
- BREEAM Flood risk management (ac)
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- BREEAM Reduction of night time light pollution (partly ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of noise pollution
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This particular index is based around the structure of the New Construction and RFO schemes.