Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. Or BREEAM as you call it

By Asitha Jayawardena (based on the BREEAM website)

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. Or BREEAM

GLOBAL experts, HOLISTIC view on sustainability and TRUSTED certification mark but ADAPTABLE to local and climatic conditions. What is it? It is BREEAM or Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

What is BREEAM?

Launched in 1990, the BREEAM certification delivers and validates the sustainability value of their assets cost-effectively to an internationally recognised and robust standard. In other words, 600,000 certifications of BREEAM in 2.3 million residential buildings in 93 countries.

Millions of buildings have registered with BREEAM sustainability journey so that its ESG, health and net-zero goals can be achieved.

BRE Group, a profit-for-purpose organisation with over 100 years of building science and research background, owns BREEAM.

The core values of BREEAM

The foundation of BREEAM is The Code for a Sustainable Built Environment or known as The Code, which is a strategic international framework for sustainability assessment of the built environment. The Code consists of a set of strategic principles and requirements which define an integrated approach to the design, construction, management, evaluation and certification of the environmental, social and economic impacts across the full life cycle of the built environment.

The BREEAM Core Standards interpret The Code as two separate but linked documents, one focusing on technical and the other on process/ operational requirements. These documents list the requirements each scheme and the scheme operator must comply with to be affiliated with BREEAM.

Providing a balanced approach to minimising impacts on the global and local environment, The Code maximises the following:

  • resource efficiency
  • health, wellbeing, comfort, safety and security of users and others
  • social and cultural value
  • opportunities for effective and efficient use of facilities
  • direct and indirect economic benefits

The standards, benchmarks, methodologies and guidance in all BREEAM schemes are compliant with The Code.

BREEAM underpins robust science and independence and the framework of BRE Global Ltd enables The Code to drive sustainability across the built environment and on a global scale.

The business case for BREEAM

Balances cost and lifecycle value: The job of BREEAM is to find the investors, developers, design and construction teams and occupiers the cost-effective ways to recognise the value of sustainable development. Additional capital costs may occur to building the enhanced standards of BREEAM but it should be viewed in the context of the overall life cycle value that sustainable development delivers for a multitude of stakeholders.

Reduces operational costs: Consultant organisations with BRE have performed research studies on the operational costs and one study indicates the capital cost uplift required to achieve higher BREEAM ratings in commercial office developments is typically less than 1%.

Helps to limit investor and developer risk: For existing buildings and their owners and investors, climate change and the evolving regulation and tenant expectations pose increasing challenges. Less resilient and maladapted buildings and built environment assets to the demands of economies, society and the natural environment may face the risk of devaluation and could eventually become stranded assets.

Makes assets more attractive to let, sell or retain: The trend is that sustainable buildings offer increased rates of return for investors, increased rental rates and sales premiums for developers and owners.

Creates productive and healthy places to live and work: Sustainable buildings can have a host of benefits for the people who live and work in them. Standards like BREEAM help to create workplaces with good indoor air quality, good lighting and daylighting levels and higher perceptions of thermal and acoustic comfort than average offices.

Supports UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): BREEAM helps to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, adopted in 2015. The construction and property sector in particular has an essential role in delivering the SDGs and their associated targets, given the significant economic, environmental and social impacts and benefits associated with construction products, buildings and infrastructure throughout their lifecycles.

Supports reconstruction following natural disasters globally: Quantifying Sustainability in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters (QSAND) is a free-to-use self-assessment tool to promote sustainable approaches to relief, recovery and reconstruction after a natural disaster. It is developed by the BREEAM team at BRE in collaboration with and on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). QSAND takes a wide variety of factors, which impact the disaster recovery process, into account and promotes a holistic sustainability approach to address the context.

The BREEAM process

The BREEAM process is easy. One can undertake the BREEAM sustainability journey trusting over 30 years of experience in sustainability assessment and third-party accreditation as follows:

  1. Find a licenced BREEAM assessor
  2. Register the project
  3. Undertake the assessment
  4. Quality assurance check of the assessment
  5. Certification  

What is checked in BREEAM?

BREEAM provides a holistic sustainability assessment framework. The category issues of BREEAM are:

  • Energy
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Innovation
  • Land Use and Ecology
  • Materials
  • Management
  • Pollution
  • Resilience
  • Resources
  • Transport
  • Waste
  • Water

The certification of BREEAM

The range of BREEAM ratings is as follows, given as a percentage score:

  • Outstanding, >=85
  • Excellent, >=70
  • Very Good, >=55
  • Good, >=45
  • Pass, >=30
  • Unclassified, <30

The future of BREEAM

“BREEAM has already been expanded from a single certification scheme and technical standard able to assess single buildings, to multiple standards that can be used on almost any type of building in any location around the globe,” said Dr Shamir Ghumra, Head of Building Performance Services. “The eventual goal is to make sustainability mainstream and routine – involving everybody.”

Looking into the future, Dr Ghumra said: “We will continue to evolve our services so that our users can make better and quicker decisions regarding the key components of our communities, infrastructure and buildings across the entire built environment.”


BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method)



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