The Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is now recognised as one of the world's leading assessment methods for demonstrating achievement of a high sustainable standard in buildings.
The process, which involves and encourages active participation from designers, developers, clients and building occupants, provides an opportunity for the design and construction team to critically assess the environmental credentials of their buildings, and measure its performance against a recognised benchmarked of acceptable performance standards.
With the current drive to increase awareness to promote sustainable developments in the UK, the requirement for both new and refurbishment building projects to achieve a specified BREEAM rating is becoming reality for both public and private sector schemes. For example, BREEAM 'Excellent' is required for most new build healthcare and education projects and for any new Government buildings. Accordingly, many Local Authorities have now incorporated this requirement into their planning to ensure that some developments are able to achieve certain minimum BREEAM standards (at least a 'Very Good' rating).
In response to such high demand, GEP Safety Consultants are providing BREEAM Assessor and BREEAM Accredited Professional (AP) services to all sectors. As Architects, Safety and Environmental Consultants, our licensed assessors and accredited professionals are able to draw on a wealth of related expertise and have the knowledge required to guide clients through the BREEAM Assessment process.
The BREEAM Assessment Process
The process entails a comprehensive review and evaluation of design information in order to award credits against a wide range of assessed categories which include: Management, Health and Wellbeing, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Waste, Land Use and Ecology, Pollution and Innovation.
The process usually starts with the design team identifying and targeting specific categories at the initial Pre-Assessment Stage. Once agreed these credits are then accumulated and converted to a percentage score, based on the number of credits achieved out of the total available credits. This percentage score is then converted to a BREEAM rating:
- Unclassified: <30%
- Pass: =30%
- Good: =45%
- Very Good: =55%
- Excellent: =60%
- Outstanding: =85%
BREEAM Assessment criteria are tailored to the type of building that is being assessed. There are several different BREEAM schemes available to assess different building types, including:
- BREEAM Education - covers nurseries, schools, colleges and university buildings
- BREEAM Offices
- BREEAM Industrial - covers warehouses and light industrial units
- BREEAM Multi-Residential
- BREEAM Healthcare - covers GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals
- BREEAM Retail
- BREEAM Other Buildings
- BREEAM In-Use
- BREEAM EcoHomes
The BREEAM Assessment Stages
There are three key stages in the assessment process which enables the design team and the Assessor to set and agree on realist targets for achieving the desired BREEAM rating. Once agreed it is possible for the team to continuously review and reassess their performance against budgets and trade off some credits for other less expensive options. The process starts with a Pre-Assessment.
The first stage in the BREEAM assessment provides advice that allows for an early, informal view on the sustainability of a development and provides advice on the elements that need to be incorporated into the detailed design and cost plan. An action list detailing the supporting evidence required from each member of the design team is issued to ensure all parties are aware of their obligations to achieve the desired BREEAM rating.
Design Stage Assessment:
The interim BREEAM assessment is usually carried out at RIBA stages 2 to 4 (previously C-E) when the detailed drawings, calculations and specifications are available for review. The building is assessed against the credit criteria outlined within the BREEAM Scheme Manual, and credits are assigned based on compliant evidence provided by the design team.
Post Construction Stage Assessment:
The final certified BREEAM assessment is carried out at post completion stage and is based on evidence contained in the as built drawings, calculations, and evidence gathered during a site inspection carried out by the BREEAM assessor. The post construction assessment provides confirmation that the commitments made at design stage have been carried through during the construction phase.
Projects which successfully complete a compliant assessment are awarded a BRE certificate bearing the achieved BREEAM Rating.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification scheme developed by the US Green Building Council in 2000. It is currently a widely adopted method used for assessing environmental credentials of a project and has been used to certify over 24,682 projects in 120 counties so far.
The early development of LEED was to some degree influenced by BREEAM, and as such, they take a common approach in so far as they assess a building against multiple issues or categories and award credits which are then allocated weighted points based on their environmental impact, with the points total determining the rating classification.
The LEED certification process starts by ensuring that building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project.
LEED assessments have specific rating schemes and systems for different building uses such as office, industrial, education, healthcare, etc. They also rely on existing building regulations and other third-party standards to set performance criteria in many areas of assessment for reasons of pragmatism as well as credibility, while fundamentally seeking (and needing) to exceed such standards.
GEP provides LEED Accredited Professional (AP) services to assist our clients in pulling together all the relevant information required at every stage of the LEED Certification process. An outline of the assessment process is provided below:
Assessment Project Types
- New Construction and Major Renovations
- Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
- Commercial Interiors
- Core & Shell
- Neighbourhood Development
The LEED process covers the following environmental categories:
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Material and Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Innovation in Design
- Regional Priority
Design Phase Review
Each project is allotted a design phase review that consists of a preliminary design phase review and a final design phase review. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) formally rules on the design phase application by designating each attempted credit as either anticipated or denied. Participating in a design phase review does not guarantee an award of any credit and will not result in LEED certification.
The design stage review gives the project team an idea of the credits likely to be achieved. The credits achieved at this stage will need to be followed through at construction in order to have the same as the final certification.
Construction Phase Review
At the completion of construction, the project team submits all attempted credits for review, including any newly attempted design credits. If the project team has had a design phase review and any of the design phase anticipated credits have since changed, additional documentation must be submitted to substantiate continued compliance with credit requirements. Upon receipt of the full certification application and fee, a final review will be conducted.
All applicant-verified design phase credits that were designated as anticipated and have not since changed since the design stage review will be declared as awarded. All other credits will be designated as either awarded or denied.
GBCI recognises buildings that achieve any of the rating levels below with a formal letter of certification.
Credit Rating Benchmarks
- Platinum - 80 points or more
- Gold - 60-79 points
- Silver - 50-59 points
- Classified - 40-49 points
- Unclassified - < 40