What are the BREEAM Categories?

What are the BREEAM categories? This is one of the most commonly asked questions by developers seeking a BREEAM certification for their building projects. Choosing the correct strategy is crucial to obtaining an outstanding rating, and it is imperative that  developers have a robust  understanding of the different BREEAM criteria. Knowing the standards against which their projects will be measured will make it easier for them to determine the steps they need to take to achieve their target BREEAM rating. 

breeam categories

What is BREEAM? 

There is no denying the fact that sustainable or “green” buildings offer numerous benefits to developers and the clients who will make use of them. This is one of the reasons why a growing number of builders are keen on ensuring that their projects are certified according to the BREEAM criteria. So, what exactly is BREEAM and how does it work? 

BREEAM refers to the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. Considered to be the world’s leading sustainable and green building rating system, it measures the environmental performance and impact of new and existing buildings. BREEAM is also widely recognised for setting global standards for best environmental design and management practices. 

In 1990, the British Research Establishment (BRE) introduced the BREEAM rating system in order to create the first extensive sustainable building rating system for office and residential developments. Since its launch, BREEAM has been used to assess more than 260,000 buildings in over 50 countries. 

BREEAM Categories and Benchmark Criteria 

BREEAM comprises several categories that address vital sustainability factors, including carbon emissions reduction, low-impact design, design durability and adaptation to climate change. Each category is further divided into different areas with their own aims and benchmarks. 

Let’s explore each standard so we can finally answer the question “What are the BREEAM categories? 


Under the Energy category, the objective is to measure, and seek to improve, a building’s operational energy. Developers are encouraged to create solutions, equipment and systems that will promote the sustainable use of energy throughout the building’s life span, including during the construction phase. 

In addition, there will be an evaluation of the efforts designed to:

  • Enhance the building’s inherent energy efficiency
  • Reduce its carbon emissions
  • Support sound energy management during the building’s operational stage 

Land Use and Ecology

The Land Use and Ecology category aims to assess the various measures that promote sustainable land use and protection. Developers are inspired to create and improve the long-term biodiversity of a building’s main site and its surrounding land. 

This category also promotes the reuse of brownfield sites or areas of low ecological value. To obtain a high rating under the Land Use and Ecology category, builders are advised to develop a system for sustainable biodiversity management as well as procedures designed to mitigate and improve the local ecology. 


This category underscores the importance of the efficient and sustainable use of water during the construction and operation of building projects. It encourages builders to identify ways to reduce the internal and external consumption of potable water and prevent losses through leakage throughout the building’s life cycle.

Health and Wellbeing

Besides the environmental impact, BRE also recognises how a building’s overall design can affect the health and wellbeing of its occupants. This is why under the Health and Wellbeing category, builders are encouraged to develop measures that will ensure the comfort, health and safety of those who will use or visit the building. This category also assesses systems designed to improve the quality of life in the building. 


Under the Pollution category, the objective is to measure and evaluate the efforts to prevent and control pollution. Because the aim is to minimise the effect of a development project on the local ecology and its neighbouring communities, developers are advised to devise solutions that will help reduce a building’s impact due to light and noise pollution, flooding, and land, water and air emissions. 


In order to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, the Transport category emphasises the importance of a building’s occupants having better access to sustainable modes of transportation. It measures how accessible the building is to public transport and determines whether or not it offers alternative transport solutions (e.g., cycling facilities) to its users. 

This category also addresses the design and provision of sustainable movement infrastructure within a building. With this type of system in place, the building’s users will be inspired to use environmentally friendly modes of transport during the project’s entire life span. 


The Materials category is concerned with the materials used for the design, construction, maintenance and repair of a building. It encourages builders to utilise materials sourced responsibly and those that have a low embodied impact throughout their life cycle, including during the extraction, processing and recycling stages. 


With the aim of preventing more waste materials from ending up on landfill sites, this category focuses on the sustainable management and possible reuse of a building’s construction and operational waste. It encourages developers to make their projects more climate-ready and to implement measures that will help reduce the amount of waste materials produced in the future. 


Through the Management category, BRE encourages developers to adopt sustainable management practices throughout a building’s life cycle, including its design, construction and aftercare stages. This helps to ensure that builders follow the sustainability goals they set in advance and guarantees that these objectives will remain in place during the building’s operational phase. In addition, the Management category also focuses on embedding sustainability actions from the beginning to the end of a building project. 


the Innovation category provides builders with the opportunity to demonstrate exemplary performance and innovation in areas that go beyond the requirements of specific credit criteria. It includes innovative products and processes for which developers can claim an innovation credit. However, they should be approved by BRE Global Ltd. first. 

Talk to a BREEAM Expert Today!

If you want to successfully assess your project to a BREEAM standard , it is imperative that you undertake an early review of the BREEAM credits to determine the   standards thatl apply to your project. This will enable you to implement the steps you need to take to ensure maximum compliance and to achieve your desired BREEAM rating. 

If you need any help identifying which BREEAM category will be best suited to your building projects, contact our team at Encon Associates and we will use our skills, knowledge and experience to ensure that you receive the specialist advice you require. 

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