Over the years, BREEAM has become the global gold standard for evaluating and certifying the environmental performance of buildings and infrastructure projects. Not only does it provide a structured framework that guides a building’s design, construction and operation phases, but it also ensures that the development aligns with sustainable practices and minimises its environmental impact. This is why a growing number of environmentally conscious developers are keen on securing BREEAM certification.
If you are currently developing a building project and targeting certification from BREEAM, this article will provide some valuable tips on how to secure an “outstanding” rating.
Understanding the BREEAM Certification Process
The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, commonly known as BREEAM, is a widely adopted certification scheme that is designed to assess the environmental performance and sustainability of both new and existing infrastructure projects. Developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the United Kingdom, it uses a range of environmental and sustainability criteria to evaluate a project’s lifecycle.
Certification from BREEAM is awarded on the basis of a rating scale that reflects the level of environmental performance achieved by a project. The ratings, in ascending order of achievement, are as follows:
- Pass – the project receives a score of at least 30% and meets the basic requirements, demonstrating a commitment to some sustainable practices.
- Good – the project receives a score of 45–54% and goes beyond the minimum standards. It exhibits a more substantial level of environmental consciousness and performance.
- Very Good – the project has a score of 55–69%. It displays a high standard of environmental performance across various categories, showcasing a significant commitment to sustainability.
- Excellent – the project receives a score of 70–84% and achieves an exceptional level of environmental performance. It incorporates innovative strategies and technologies to minimise its environmental impact.
- Outstanding – with a minimum score of 85%, this is the highest BREEAM rating achievable. The project meets the “excellent” criteria and demonstrates groundbreaking and pioneering practices that set new standards for sustainability within the industry.
Meanwhile, if a project fails to receive any ranking, it will be categorised as “unclassified”. This means it has not met the minimum requirements for sustainable practices.
Why target an “outstanding” rating?
Receiving an “outstanding” rating from BRE is one of the top priorities for many developers, and for good reason. The highest BREEAM rating brings with it many benefits, not just for the building users but also for the project developers and owners. They include:
- Industry leadership through innovative practices
- Increased marketability, property value and rental rates
- Significant long-term cost savings from energy-efficient technologies and resource-efficient strategies
- Reduced carbon emissions and resource conservation
- Evidence of your commitment to sustainability and responsible development
Tips on Securing Your Desired BREEAM Rating
Taking a proactive approach to sustainability is key to achieving your desired BREEAM certification rating. Here are a few pointers to consider to increase the likelihood of receiving an “outstanding” BREEAM certification.
1. Meet the minimum BREEAM requirements
You should begin by ensuring your project fulfils the basic BREEAM prerequisites for certification. Meeting these minimum requirements will provide a foundation for advancing to higher rating levels. The good news is that BRE has provided detailed information on how to achieve this, including what developers must do to meet the basic requirements for both existing and newly constructed buildings, and the minimum points required for each BREEAM category.
2. Incorporate BREEAM into the design process
If you are constructing a new building, it is usually a good idea to integrate BREEAM considerations from the very beginning. Addressing sustainability goals at an early stage will allow for the seamless incorporation of eco-friendly features and strategies into the building’s design. This will boost your chances of receiving a favourable rating.
3. Don’t wait to collaborate with a BREEAM professional
It is also advisable to engage a qualified BREEAM professional, such as one of our experienced Assessors and APs at Encon Associates, during the early stages of the project. Their industry knowledge and expertise will help ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of BREEAM’s criteria, thus supporting your strategic decision-making processes and optimising your sustainability measures.
4. Identify opportunities for innovation
As credits are awarded for innovation, you should seek groundbreaking solutions beyond conventional practices. For example, novel approaches to energy efficiency, material selection and waste reduction can elevate your project’s sustainability profile and help you achieve a higher BREEAM rating.
5. Perform lifecycle analysis
Conduct a thorough lifecycle analysis to assess the environmental impact of various design choices. This analysis will help you identify the long-term benefits and drawbacks of your design team’s decisions, guiding them towards measures or approaches that match the BREEAM requirements.
6. Leverage smart technology
It pays to incorporate cutting-edge technologies that enhance energy efficiency, resource conservation and user well-being. Smart building systems and automation, such as occupancy detection and fire sensors, will significantly contribute to higher BREEAM ratings.
7. Prioritise energy
Energy efficiency plays a central role in a BREEAM assessment. A significant number of the points that can be awarded relate to the energy category, potentially providing you with 15% when the building is fully fitted out. Therefore, you should consider implementing energy-saving measures, such as efficient HVAC systems, insulation and renewable energy sources, to boost your project’s sustainability credentials.
8. Ensure the building is user-friendly
Your building should be designed to prioritise user well-being and comfort. Adequate lighting, good indoor air quality and ergonomic spaces will not only contribute to a higher BREEAM rating, they will also help create a more appealing and functional environment for the occupants, increasing the value of your project as well as the subsequent demand.
Take the First Step Towards an “Outstanding” BREEAM Rating
As the global gold standard for evaluating and certifying environmental performance in construction, BREEAM has evolved into a cornerstone of sustainable development, and achieving an “outstanding” certification has become the goal of many developers. Securing your desired BREEAM rating will require a strategic and proactive approach rooted in sustainability. This is why we would recommend that you begin the process as soon as possible to ensure you achieve your target rating.
Engaging the services of a BREEAM professional can also be invaluable on your journey. With their industry knowledge and experience, they can help you develop a better understanding of BREEAM, navigate the complex certification process and optimise your project’s sustainability strategies. Get in touch with us at Encon Associates and we will provide you with the expert assistance you need to achieve your desired BREEAM rating.