What is BREEAM?

Darren Evans
February 24, 2021

The Building Research Establishment’s (BRE’s) Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a scheme for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. There are five BREEAM technical standards, of which the most commonly used is ‘New Construction’ for homes and commercial buildings.

The other four technical standards are: In-Use (for commercial buildings), Refurbishment & Fit-Out (for homes and commercial buildings), Infrastructure (for civil engineering and public realm projects), and Communities (for masterplanning).

What areas of environmental performance does BREEAM cover?

BREEAM is a form of whole-building life cycle assessment, accounting for how the individual building is designed and the way materials and products are used within that design. It assesses ‘sustainable value’ across nine categories, including energy, health and wellbeing, and materials.

Each category is broken down into further areas of performance, known as ‘assessment issues’, some of which are mandatory. The categories are not weighted equally, as BREEAM aims to balance social, economic, and environmental impacts to create a complete picture of sustainability.

The result of an assessment is a rating of up to six stars, which correspond to the BREEAM rating system from Outstanding, through Excellent, Very Good and Good, to Pass. There is also an Acceptable rating, but this is only a feature of In-Use assessments.

When should a BREEAM assessment start?

There are two stages of assessment and certification. An interim certificate is issued based on a design stage assessment. The final certificate and rating are awarded post-completion.

Engaging a BREEAM assessor at an early stage of a project helps to guide the design, giving the project team greater certainty that they are on course to achieve the desired rating - especially for Excellent or Outstanding.

BREEAM 2018 requires several reports to be completed before planning submission. If design work is carried out without considering its impact on BREEAM scoring, costly and time consuming changes to the scheme might have to be carried out, or a lower rating accepted as the final result.

At Darren Evans, we have experienced BREEAM assessors who can capture discussions and decisions at RIBA Stages 0 to 2 and unlock credits that might otherwise be missed.

We can offer a range of other services alongside this, ensuring the impact of design and specification changes is considered across all aspects of building compliance and assessment. Contact us to discuss the needs of your project.

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