What Is BREEAM? | The Pros & Cons

BREEAM stands for the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. And thankfully, we don’t have to say that every time. It was introduced in the UK in 1990 and sets best practice standards for the environmental performance of buildings through design, specification, construction, and operation.

BREEAM assessments are carried out by trained assessors using the following nine criteria.

· Energy

· Land use and ecology

· Water

· Health and wellbeing

· Pollution

· Transport

· Materials

· Waste

· And Management 

Each category focusses on the most influential factors, including reduced carbon emissions, low impact design, adaption to climate change, ecological value and biodiversity protection.

Independent licenced assessors carry out an assessment of a scheme and each of the criteria is scored and then multiplied by a weighting.

Two assessment stages are carried out (a design stage assessment which results in an interim certificate, and a post-construction assessment resulting in a final certificate being issued and a rating awarded).

Each element is scored and then multiplied by a weighting. There are minimum thresholds that must be achieved. The overall score is then translated into one of the following BREEAM ratings

·  Unclassified. This is a score under 30%

·  Pass. This is a score between 30 and 44%

·  Good. This is a score between 45 and 54%

·  Very Good. This is a score between 55 and 69%

·  Excellent. This is a score between 70 and 84%

· And Outstanding. Which is a score over 85%

The BREEAM rating benchmark levels enable a client or other stakeholder to compare an individual building’s performance with other BREEAM rated buildings and the typical sustainability performance of new non-domestic buildings in the UK.

Each BREEAM rating level broadly represents performance equivalent to;

· Outstanding: Classed as Innovator. This relates to less than top 1% of UK new non-domestic buildings

· Excellent: Classed as Best Practice. These are the top 10% of UK new non-domestic buildings 

· Very Good: Classed as Advanced good practice. This includes the top 25% of UK new non-domestic buildings 

· Good: Classed as Intermediate good practice. This encompasses the top 50% of UK new non-domestic buildings 

· And finally Pass: Classed as standard good practice. This relates to the top 75% of UK new non-domestic buildings 

One of the major disadvantages of BREEAM is the potential for higher capital costs for the building to reach the required standard. BREEAM assessments have also been accused of being overly complicated to administer. As a result, it is not unusual for developers to engage BREEAM advisors to advise the design team and to monitor BREEAM compliance.

Conversely, buildings constructed to achieve a high BREEAM rating provide many benefits for individuals living and working within them such as increased comfort and in turn, productivity. There us also evidence that suggests that these buildings are more attractive to investors. Purchasers and tenants meaning you could rent or sell these spaces for more.

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