BREEAM… Do you even know what it stands for?
As a BREEAM Assessor sometimes the most common answer I hear to the above question is ‘client wants it’ or ‘to satisfying that planning condition’. I have written this note as a beginners guide and reminder to professionals of why the construction industry needs BREEAM.
It is well known that the construction industry has huge environmental impacts on our planet. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2012) state that the current global built environment is responsible for:
- 30% of greenhouse gas emissions
- 3 billion tonnes of raw materials per annum
- 20% of global water usage
- 30-40% of global energy consumption
The Environment Agency (2007) report that 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK are caused by the energy used in constructing, occupying and operating buildings.
BREEAM seeks to reduce these impacts by encouraging developers and businesses to make positive changes.
What is BREEAM?
BREEAM stands for the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. It is a certification scheme to categorise, assess and rate buildings based on a standardised set of criteria. BREEAM is operated by the BRE who are an independent trust and so are separate from the government and firms. This allows the BRE to be both objective and credible.
What is the point of BREEAM?
Here are the six main aims of BREEAM:
Deliver Sustainable Solutions
BREEAM aims to push developments to go beyond the minimum standards and regulations
Provide a holistic framework
There are a wide range of sustainability issues that need to be considered through the life cycle stages of the development process. BREEAM provides a weighting to different sustainability issues which are then combined to make a single score. Therefore if you maximise the score you automatically maintain the balance.
Based on sound science
The BREEAM framework is based on scientific research with industry wide consultations.
Measure what is important
Sustainable developments consists of economic, social and environmental issues, it is easy to measure the economic impacts by looking at a purchase receipt. BREEAM aims to make the environmental and social impacts just as easy to measure.
Support a process of change
BREEAM aims to recognise and reward developments that have gone beyond simple regulations. BREEAM therefore provides a framework for the government to set direction and incorporate requirements in to planning legislation.
Deliverer of value for buildings and their occupants
BREEAM can deliver value through reduced running costs through less energy, water and waste consumption during both the construction and operational phase. In addition a building that works for its occupants as BREEAM includes aspects of stakeholder participation, air quality, thermal comfort, good acoustics, safe and security issues to name but a few
If you have any questions or enquiries around BREEAM Assessments please do not hesitate to contact us.