Demystifying the BREEAM Rating System: What Every Builder Needs to Know

Breeam Rating System

With the ever-increasing challenge of climate change and the growing awareness of preserving our natural resources, it has never been more important for builders to ensure that their construction projects are sustainable and eco-friendly. As the construction industry strives to minimise its ecological footprint, achieving high BREEAM ratings has become imperative. This is because these ratings signify adherence to rigorous sustainability standards, encompassing energy efficiency, waste reduction and ecological preservation. But how exactly can you achieve the BREEAM rating that will allow your project to have a positive impact on your business, the environment and the local community?


A Closer Look at BREEAM 

Before we delve into the BREEAM rating system and how to achieve your target score, let’s discuss its origins and purpose.


History and origins

The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1990. Established by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), BREEAM was conceived as a comprehensive and standardised methodology for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. Initially designed to meet the UK’s sustainability needs, it has since evolved into a globally recognised framework that sets the benchmark for sustainable construction practices.


Core principles and objectives

At its core, BREEAM operates on the principles of holistic sustainability, evaluating buildings based on various environmental categories such as energy efficiency, water usage, materials selection and ecological impact. The objectives include minimising adverse environmental effects, promoting positive contributions, and fostering a balance between construction and ecological preservation.

BREEAM certification encourages builders to adopt innovative solutions. It also promotes a commitment to continuous improvement in various areas, most notably environmental performance.


International adoption and relevance

Over the years, BREEAM has gained widespread international acceptance, transcending borders across the globe. In fact, its adaptability to diverse geographical, climatic and cultural contexts has contributed to its global relevance. Today, more than 535,000 buildings have been BREEAM-certified, and more than 2,217,000 are currently up for certification. While most of these projects are in the UK, a significant number are in more than 74 countries.

As countries and industries seek to implement sustainable practices, BREEAM can serve as a valuable tool for setting and achieving high standards in construction, providing a common language for assessing and comparing the environmental performance of buildings on an international scale. The framework’s broad adoption underscores its significance in shaping a more sustainable, eco-friendly and resilient built environment worldwide.


The BREEAM Certification Process 

The BREEAM certification process involves a systematic evaluation of a construction project against a set of predefined criteria covering various aspects of sustainability. The process begins with a pre-assessment, followed by a detailed examination of the building’s design, construction and operational phases. BREEAM utilises a scoring system, and buildings can achieve different BREEAM ratings based on their overall performance.


Nine Areas of Evaluation

BREEAM evaluates buildings across nine key categories to gauge their environmental impact: 

  • Energy
  • Health and well-being
  • Innovation
  • Land use and ecology
  • Management
  • Materials
  • Pollution
  • Transport
  • Water

Each BREEAM category focuses on specific aspects of sustainability, ensuring a holistic approach that considers the building’s entire life cycle. By addressing these diverse elements, BREEAM provides a comprehensive and nuanced assessment that goes beyond mere energy efficiency.


Why seek certification?

BREEAM certification provides numerous benefits to builders, owners and the environment. Beyond demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility, certified buildings often enjoy increased market value and demand. 

Moreover, BREEAM certification can enhance your reputation as a builder, help you attract tenants, and contribute to long-term savings through improved energy efficiency and resource management. Furthermore, aligning with global sustainability standards will enable you to play a pivotal role in fighting climate change and fostering a more resilient and eco-friendly built environment. Ultimately, BREEAM certification is a valuable marker of excellence in sustainable construction, promoting both environmental stewardship and economic viability.


The BREEAM Rating System

The BREEAM Rating System serves as a qualitative measure of a building’s environmental performance, offering a clear indication of its sustainability level.



An “Unclassified” rating signifies that a building has undergone a BREEAM assessment but has failed to satisfy the minimum criteria required for a “Pass”. This classification prompts a re-evaluation of sustainability measures in order to meet the baseline standards set by BREEAM.



A “Pass” indicates that a building has met the fundamental sustainability requirements outlined by BREEAM. While this rating demonstrates a commitment to environmental responsibility, it represents the basic level of compliance without significant emphasis on exceeding standard benchmarks.



A “Good” rating (a minimum score of 55%) implies that a building has achieved a higher level of sustainability, showcasing a notable commitment to environmental best practices. This rating is a reflection of an above-average performance across the BREEAM criteria.


Very Good

A “Very Good” rating (a minimum score of 70%) highlights a building’s exemplary environmental performance, surpassing standard sustainability expectations. It acknowledges a comprehensive and conscientious approach to sustainable construction and design.



An “Excellent” rating (a minimum score of 85%) is awarded to buildings that demonstrate outstanding environmental sustainability across the BREEAM criteria. It signifies a holistic commitment to reducing the environmental impact, incorporating innovative solutions and promoting a long-term vision for sustainability.



The highest accolade within the BREEAM Rating System is “Outstanding” and this is reserved for projects that receive a minimum score of 90% and exemplify exceptional environmental leadership. Buildings awarded this rating will not only meet stringent sustainability criteria but will also pioneer innovative solutions, setting a benchmark for others in the pursuit of a genuinely sustainable built environment.


How to Achieve Your Target BREEAM Rating 

Achieving your target BREEAM rating involves a multifaceted approach that requires both time and effort. To increase your chances of obtaining your desired results, there are several key factors you should consider.

1. Choose the right standard for your project

Selecting the appropriate BREEAM standard for your project is crucial in terms of aligning sustainability goals with specific criteria. Whether it’s BREEAM New Construction, BREEAM In-Use, or another variant tailored to your building type, choosing the appropriate standard will help ensure that your project adheres to relevant and applicable sustainability benchmarks.

 2. Ensure the minimum BREEAM requirements are met

To achieve your target BREEAM rating, you must meet the minimum requirements of your chosen BREEAM standard. This will involve full compliance with key sustainability measures, ranging from energy efficiency and water conservation to materials selection and ecological considerations.

 3. Integrate BREEAM considerations early in the design process

For optimal results, it is imperative that BREEAM considerations are integrated early in the design process. Addressing sustainability aspects during the initial design stages will allow for the seamless incorporation of green features, ensuring that your project will align with the BREEAM categories from conception through to construction.

 4. Work with licensed BREEAM professionals

Collaborating with BREEAM Assessors and APs can significantly enhance your project’s chances of achieving favourable BREEAM ratings. For instance, our team at Encon Associates can apply their expertise in navigating the complexities of the BREEAM assessment and certification process, offering tailored solutions to meet your specific project requirements. With our commitment to environmental excellence, we can help you realise your sustainability goals and ensure a successful BREEAM certification outcome for your project.


Take the First Step Towards Achieving Your Target BREEAM Rating 

If you are a builder committed to sustainable construction, achieving a high BREEAM rating is crucial. It will reflect your company’s rigorous adherence to eco-friendly principles, elevating your project’s market and empowering your business to contribute to efforts to protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.


At Encon Associates, we have the knowledge and expertise to help builders meet their sustainability goals and achieve their target BREEAM rating. If you require any professional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.


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