Buildings from all over the world account for 40% of global energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas emissions.
This reality has pushed more and more building owners and organizations to use green building certifications to evaluate the environmental impacts and the performance of newly constructed and existing built environments – and of all these certification programs, BREEAM certification is one of the most popular.
What is BREEAM?
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is a certification scheme for sustainable buildings, infrastructure, and communities. Launched in the United Kingdom in 1990 by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the program provides a flexible foundation for green buildings and encourages occupant health and wellbeing throughout the entire planning, construction, operation, and renovation process.
If you are aiming to secure a BREEAM certification for your building project, obtaining a clear and robust understanding of the different BREEAM categories is a crucial step.
There are a number of different BREEAM categories that are evaluated in order to determine a building’s overall sustainability performance. These categories include:
This category encourages building projects to measure and improve their operational energy. Projects and developers are motivated to develop solutions, equipment, and systems that promote the smart and sustainable consumption of energy throughout the building’s entire life span.
Land Use and Ecology
This category aims to evaluate the various practices that promote sustainable land use and protection. Projects are encouraged to create and optimize the long-term biodiversity of the building’s main location and the land that surrounds it.
This category highlights the value of the efficient and sustainable use of water during the construction and operation of a building project. It encourages projects to identify and create ways to reduce the consumption of potable water internally and externally, as well as to prevent wastage through leakage.
The objective of this category is to evaluate the efforts performed to prevent and manage pollution. Since its main purpose is to minimize the impact of development projects on the local ecology and the nearby communities, projects are advised to establish strategies and solutions that will help reduce a built environment’s contribution to various types of pollution, including, air, light, and noise.
To reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, this category highlights the importance of providing better access to sustainable modes of transport. It measures how accessible the built environment is to public transport and determines whether it offers alternative transport solutions such as cycle facilities to its users.
This category assesses the environmental impact of the materials used in the building’s construction, including their sourcing, production, and disposal.
To prevent more waste materials from ending up on landfill sites, BREEAM certification’s Waste category focuses on sustainable waste management practices, such as waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.
This category evaluates the management of the building, including the building’s management policies, energy management, and stakeholder engagement.
This category provides an opportunity for the building team to showcase innovative sustainable solutions that go beyond the requirements of the other categories.
Health and Wellbeing
Aside from the environmental impact, BREEAM also emphasizes the way a building’s overall design affects the health and wellbeing of its occupants. Under the Health and Wellbeing category, projects are encouraged to develop measures that will ensure the comfort, health and safety of those who will use or visit the building
How to get BREEAM certification
Here’s a general overview of the process to make your building become BREEAM-certified:
- Choose the appropriate, BREEAM scheme for your project BREEAM offers a range of schemes for different building types and stages of the project, such as New Construction, In-Use, Refurbishment & Fit-Out, Communities, and Infrastructure. Choose the scheme that best fits your building type.
- Appoint a BREEAM assessor, You must appoint a qualified BREEAM assessor to guide you through the assessment process and ensure that your project meets the BREEAM requirements. You can find a BREEAM assessor through the BREEAM website or by contacting a certification body.
- Register your project with BREEAM, Register your project on the BREEAM website and pay the appropriate registration fee.
- Begin and complete the BREEAM Assessment, The BREEAM assessment involves completing a series of questionnaires and providing evidence to demonstrate compliance with the BREEAM requirements.
- Achieve BREEAM certification, Your appointed BREEAM assessor will evaluate your project against the BREEAM criteria. The assessor will also provide a benchmarked percentage score and an overall BREEAM rating for a building.
Ratings are broken down into six classifications:
- Outstanding (minimum 85%)
- Excellent (minimum 70%)
- Very Good (minimum 55%)
- Good (minimum 45%)
- Pass (minimum 30%)
- Unclassified (less than 30%)
It is important to note that achieving a higher BREEAM rating requires a higher level of environmental performance, and it is an indication of the building’s sustainability credentials. A higher BREEAM rating can also result in benefits such as lower running costs, increased asset value, and improved occupant health and well-being.
Validity of a BREEAM certification
The BREEAM certification is valid for a specific period. This varies on the type of scheme and the certification level achieved.
- BREEAM New Construction
For this scheme, the certification is valid for three years from the date of issue. After three years, the building’s performance must be reassessed to maintain its certification.
- BREEAM In-Use
The certification is valid for one year from the date of issue. After one year, the building’s performance must be reassessed to maintain its certification.
- BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-Out
With these schemes, the certification is valid for the design and construction phase of the project. Once the project is complete, the BREEAM rating becomes fixed and does not require renewal.
It is important to note that BREEAM certifications are not permanent and must be maintained to ensure the building’s ongoing environmental performance. Regular monitoring and assessment are required to maintain the BREEAM certification and ensure that the building continues to meet the required environmental standards.
- Benefits of BREEAM certification
BREEAM provides several benefits for building owners, occupants, and the environment. Here are some of the benefits of obtaining a BREEAM certification:
- Improved energy efficiency
BREEAM requires buildings to meet specific energy efficiency standards, which can help lower energy consumption, and improve resource efficiency.
- Enhanced property value
BREEAM is widely recognized as a mark of excellence in the construction industry which can increase the building’s asset value and attractiveness to potential buyers or tenants.
- Improved health and wellbeing of occupants
BREEAM-certified buildings follow certain standards that can lead to improved indoor air quality, natural lighting, and access to outdoor space, thus improving the health and wellbeing of occupants.
- Compliance with regulations
BREEAM certification can help building owners comply with regulatory requirements for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
BREEAM certification encourages the use of innovative, sustainable solutions that can future-proof buildings and ensure that they remain environmentally responsible for years to come.
BREEAM and Indoor Environmental Quality
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is taken into account when pursuing BREEAM certification. By adopting IEQ solutions, pollutants that contribute to noise, air, and light pollution can be controlled, the health of the occupants can be maintained, efficient energy use can be ensured, and carbon emissions can be reduced – which are all essential in securing a BREEAM certificate.
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