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BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method)

BREEAM is operated by BRE Global Ltd and is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. The current version of the scheme is BREEAM 2008, which was introduced on 1st August 2008.

BREEAM was initially introduced in 1990 and draws on current best practices in sustainable design. It is a credit based assessment and has since become the basis for a range of environmental performance assessments for both new and existing buildings, such as:

  • BREEAM Healthcare
  • BREEAM Industrial
  • BREEAM Prisons
  • BREEAM Offices

BREEAM schemes encourage and allow developers to improve the environmental and sustainability credentials of their buildings The scheme is voluntary, however it is required on government construction projects.

BREEAM forms the basis of the Ecohomes Scheme, which has now been replaced by the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH).

Registered BREEAM assessors can undertake and accredit assessments according to requirements within the Code for Sustainable Homes and other BREEAM based schemes.

Variations of the BREEAM scheme can be used to assess the environmental performance of existing buildings undergoing major refurbishments (including new build extensions) such as houses, offices, factories, leisure centres, prisons, retail facilities, hospitals and schools.

By using a BREEAM assessment scheme a developer can easily illustrate that a building has a low environmental impact and environmental best practice was adhered to during its design and commissioning. Assessment under BREEAM also indicates consideration has been given to a reduction of running costs and improvements in living and working environments within a building. BREEAM currently demands environmental performance beyond building regulations. The BREEAM In-Use scheme can be applied to existing buildings in order to reduce running costs and improve environmental performance.

BREEAM rates and credits the following key areas involved in the construction of a building.

  • Management
  • Health and wellbeing (Heating, lighting, air quality, noise)
  • Energy (CO2 emissions, low energy lighting, metering, 'A' rated European Energy Efficiency labelled white goods, energy management)
  • Transport (Development location, parking and cyclist provisions, links to public transport and car parks, travel plans)
  • Water (water efficient fixtures, water metering, leak detection systems, water butts)
  • Materials and Waste (Low environmental impact ratings e.g. 'A' rating within the Guide to Specification, buildings undergoing part or complete refurbishment, responsibly resourced materials, using recycled materials.
  • Land use and Ecology (use of contaminated or brownfield sites, ecological enhancement, protection/endangering of protected species, maximising building footprint usage)
  • Pollution (Usage of refrigerants and insulation with a low global warming potential (GWP), space heating with minimum nitrous oxide emissions, building in a low flood risk area, management of surface water run off, use of oil interceptors/filtration in car parks and other risk areas.

(Taken from BREEAM Offices 2008)

Credits are applied to the key areas along with an environmental rating to calculate a single overall score in order to provide a provisional rating for the building at design stage. Once constructed, a final rating can be assigned to the building, following assessment and a final certificate of compliance issued. Buildings are given a rating on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent or Outstanding.

Particular legislation is in place for designers and developers involved with the design and construction of Hospitals, Prisons and Fire Stations and buildings on behalf of the government. All government funded construction projects should achieve a BREEAM Healthcare rating of Excellent and all refurbished buildings require a rating of Very Good.

The Government has specified that all new build hospitals, medical buildings or surgeries should achieve a BREEAM Healthcare rating of Excellent and that all refurbished buildings a rating of Very Good.

A specific BREEAM for Construction of Fire and Rescue Buildings is currently being implemented.

Useful Links

To find a registered BREEAM Assessor

To become a BREEAM Assessor

Approved SBEAM software