BREEAM (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method) is the world's first sustainability rating scheme for the built environment and has contributed much to the strong focus in the UK on sustainability in building design, construction and use. BREEAM is now an international standard that is locally adapted, operated and applied through a network of international operators, assessors and industry professionals. Through its application and use BREEAM helps clients measure and reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings and in doing so create higher value, lower risk assets.
To date, BREEAM has been used to certify over 590,000 building assessments across the building life cycle and it is being applied in over 85 countries.
Aims of BREEAM
- To mitigate the life cycle impacts of buildings on the environment.
- To enable buildings to be recognised according to their environmental benefits.
- To provide a credible, environmental label for buildings.
- To stimulate demand and create value for sustainable buildings, building products and supply chains.
Objectives of BREEAM
- To provide market recognition of buildings with a low environmental impact.
- To ensure best environmental practice is incorporated in the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings and the wider built environment.
- To define a robust, cost effective performance standard surpassing that required by regulations.
- To challenge the market to provide innovative, cost effective solutions that minimise the environmental impact of buildings.
- To raise awareness among owners, occupants, designers and operators of the benefits and value of buildings with a reduced life cycle impact on the environment.
- To allow organisations to demonstrate progress towards corporate environmental objectives.
BREEAM is developed and operated to meet the following underlying principles:
- Ensure environmental quality through an accessible, holistic and balanced measure of environmental impacts.
- Use quantified measures for determining environmental quality.
- Adopt a flexible approach that encourages and rewards positive outcomes, avoiding prescribed solutions.
- Use robust science and best practice as the basis for quantifying and calibrating a cost effective and rigorous performance standard for defining environmental quality.
- Reflect the social and economic benefits of meeting the environmental objectives covered.
- Provide a common international framework of assessment that is tailored to meet the 'local' context including regulation, climate and sector.
- Integrate building professionals in the development and operational processes to ensure wide understanding and accessibility.
- Adopt third party certification to ensure independence, credibility and consistency of the label.
- Adopt existing industry tools, practices and other standards wherever possible to support developments in policy and technology, build on existing skills and understanding, and minimise costs.
- Align technically and operationally with relevant international standards, including the suite of standards on the 'Sustainability of Construction Works' prepared by the European Committee for Standardisation Technical Committee CEN/TC 350, as well as other international initiatives that promote harmonisation in the assessment of sustainability performance of built environment assets across their life cycle.
- Engage with a representative range of stakeholders to inform ongoing development in accordance with the underlying principles and the pace of change in performance standards (accounting for policy, regulation and market capability).
The aims, objectives and principles of BREEAM are embodied within a Core Technical Standard owned and managed by BRE Global. This is applied through a suite of BREEAM schemes covering aspects of the built environment life cycle. These schemes are locally developed and operated by a number of different organisations, called National Scheme Operators (NSOs), across a range of countries.
For a full list of BREEAM NSOs and schemes visit the BREEAM website (www.breeam.com).
The BREEAM schemes
BRE Global is the NSO of BREEAM in the UK. We develop and operate a number of BREEAM schemes for the UK and internationally, each designed to assess the environmental performance of developments at various stages in the life cycle, and these include:
- BREEAM Communities for the master-planning of a larger community of buildings.
- CEEQUAL for civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping and public realm works.
- BREEAM New Construction for new-build domestic and non-domestic buildings.
- Home Quality Mark for new-build dwellings (in the UK only).
- BREEAM In-Use for existing buildings in operation.
- BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out for domestic and non-domestic building fit-outs and refurbishments.
Independent BREEAM Assessors, trained, qualified and licensed by BRE Global can undertake a BREEAM assessment using this scheme document and associated reporting and calculation tools.
Once an assessment is complete and quality assured BRE Global will issue a BREEAM certificate. The BREEAM certificate provides formal verification that the Assessor has completed an assessment of a building in accordance with the requirements of the scheme and its quality standards and procedures.
A BREEAM certificate provides assurance to any interested party that a building's BREEAM rating, at the time of certification, accurately reflects its performance against the BREEAM standard.
Anyone wishing to verify the BREEAM rating of a building can do so by either checking its BREEAM certificate, which will contain the certification mark, (see Figure 1) or by searching the BREEAM buildings listings on BREEAM Projects (www.breeam.com/projects). Examples of a BREEAM New Construction certificate can be found in Appendix F – Examples of BREEAM New Construction certificates.
Ensuring quality and consistency
All BREEAM schemes are developed and operated by NSOs in accordance with the Code for a Sustainable Built Environment. The Code for a Sustainable Built Environment is a set of strategic principles and requirements which define an integrated approach to the design, management, evaluation and certification of the environmental, social and economic impacts of the built environment.
The Code is interpreted through the BREEAM Core Process and Technical Standards. These linked documents set out the requirements that a compliant scheme must meet in order to be affiliated with the Code. The Standards ensure that a common scientific and performance basis is used by all compliant schemes operated by NSOs, while ensuring that these are relevant to local demands, standards and practices.
To ensure competence, impartiality and performance capability, all National Scheme Operators are required to maintain scheme operations to internationally agreed standards and seek accreditation from a national accreditation body.
BRE Global is a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited certification body (No. 0007). The scope of our accreditation to ISO/IEC 17065 ‘Conformity assessment - Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services’ can be verified on the UKAS website, and includes BREEAM Scheme SD123 ‘Environmental assessments of the built environment – certification of the process’.
BRE Global is also certified to ISO 9001 ‘Quality management systems – Requirements’ for all its BREEAM related activities.
As an accredited certification body, BRE Global maintains an open and accountable governance structure.
BREEAM operates a series of Technical Working Groups, these provide BRE Global with access to a range of experts that can review BRE Global's standards and schemes to ensure their robustness from a scientific, technical and market perspective as well as ensuring the development of the standards and schemes is open to greater external and independent scrutiny.