As more people are becoming aware of the importance of preserving and protecting our natural environment, different sectors of society are undertaking measures to reduce our negative impact on the planet. In particular, the UK construction sector has started to build more eco-friendly projects. Companies are also using highly sustainable materials to obtain BREEAM certification, which serves as proof of their projects’ environmental and sustainability credentials.
But what is a BREEAM certificate and how does it work?
Introduced in 1990 by BRE, the Building Research Establishment, the Environmental Assessment Method or BREEAM is the longest established methodology of its kind. It is used for evaluating, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings and other infrastructure projects based on the following criteria:
- Water consumption
- Health and wellbeing
BREEAM is designed to help owners, builders, designers and occupiers understand the importance and benefits of creating sustainable communities and infrastructure projects. It helps them find and adopt the most cost-effective and sustainable solutions while recognising their achievements.
BREEAM was launched initially to evaluate new offices, but it has grown into something more extensive and comprehensive over the last 30 years. The BREEAM standard is updated regularly to reflect the ongoing need to enhance sustainability and support the ever-changing needs of the construction industry. In addition, it is applicable to virtually any building and location.
How Does It Work?
To obtain a BREEAM certification, a developer/client must enlist the assistance of a certified BREEAM assessor, such as one of our team at Encon Associates. The assessor will provide a third-party assessment and certification, which can take place over the different stages of a project’s lifespan, including design, operation and refurbishment.
Each of the criteria mentioned above has individual categories with its own aim, target and benchmarks. BREEAM assessors will award “credits” or points when a project meets a target or benchmark. The credits are then multiplied by an environmental weighting factor before the individual category scores are added up to determine the final rating.
Depending on how many criteria on the BREEAM certification checklist a particular project meets, it will receive the following BREEAM certification levels, expressed as a series of stars on the BREEAM certificate:
- Unclassified – the project receives a final score of less than 30%.
- Pass – the project receives a final score of more than 30%.
- Very good – the project obtains a final score of more than 55%.
- Excellent – the project receives a final score of more than 70%.
- Outstanding – the project obtains a final score of more than 85%. This is the highest rating and only 1% of all new commercial buildings in the UK have received this score.
How to Obtain a BREEAM Rating
If you want your project to be BREEAM-certified, there are several steps you need to follow.
- Identify the BREEAM standard applicable to your development project. The BREEAM standard has different versions depending on the life cycle of the building/project. It includes:
- BREEAM New Construction – this is the standard used to measure the sustainability of new non-residential developments in the UK.
- BREEAM International New Construction – this is used to determine the level of sustainability of new residential and non-residential buildings in countries other than the UK and those with a national BREEAM scheme.
- BREEAM In-Use – this is designed to help building managers minimise the cost of managing existing buildings while improving their environmental performance.
- BREEAM Refurbishment – this is a design and assessment method for measuring the sustainability of refurbished housing projects.
- BREEAM Communities – this helps construction industry professionals design economically successful and environmentally friendly living and work spaces.
- Appoint a licensed and certified BREEAM assessor to evaluate your development project according to the correct BREEAM standard.
- Register your project through your appointed BREEAM assessor. Please note that BREEAM certification fees are applicable depending on the standard to be used and the size of your project.
- With the help of your assessor, carry out a pre-assessment of your project.
- Following on from the informal Pre-Assessment stage the project moves to the formal Design stage and Post Construction stage of assessment.
- Gather all the necessary information about your project during the assessment period and pass it to your qualified BREEAM assessor.
- Your assessor will evaluate the information they receive from you to determine compliance and offer advice and guidance where required.
- After evaluating the project information, your assessor will submit their assessment to the certification body.
- If you receive a pass or above rating, you will receive your BREEAM certification. Display your certificate and achievement via a BREEAM banner on your website or a plaque on your building.
Let Us Help You Achieve Your Desired BREEAM Rating
Securing a BREEAM rating for your project has been proven to enhance a building assets environmental and sustainability credentials as well as its commercial value. Not only will it demonstrate your commitment to protecting the environment, but it will also showcase the sustainable and also showcase the sustainable and environmental value of your project. For this reason, you should enlist the services of a certified assessor and start working towards achieving your BREEAM certification.