BREEAM – What’s your opinion?

BSRIA recently held an event as part of our Building Environmental Assessment Network to discuss opinions on BREEAM.  This is always a hot topic with lots of views, and this event was no different.

For those new to the world of environmental assessment, BREEAM (the BRE Environmental Assessment Method) is a criteria based assessment of the sustainability of a building.  Developed by the BRE in 1990, it is now the UK’s most used environmental assessment method, and is often a requirement of planning.  More details can be found at www.breeam.org.

The aim of the event was to see if the 2011 changes were sitting well with the industry or needed changing.  It was also a chance to give BRE feedback directly for future changes, or problems that have been encountered.

Particular issues raised were:

  • The transparency of some of the calculation methods
  • Getting feedback or answers to queries from BRE
  • Issues with the energy credits in the 2011 version, especially when dealing with CHP units. 
  • Some refrigeration related credits appear impossible to get

Questions raised in the presentations were:

  • Is the value of each credit appropriate?
  • Is the industry ready for all the changes made in 2011?
  • Is the qualification route for assessors and BREEAM APs appropriate?
  • Is there need for more information for the industry?

The presentations given on the day are available from: http://www.bsria.co.uk/services/membership/networks/building-assessment-network/

So do you have an opinion on BREEAM?  What works well and what needs some adjustment?  Of particular interest would be your experience of the latest version of BREEAM, i.e. 2011.

About James Parker
Senior Research Engineer with BSRIA's Sustainable Buildings Group

2 Responses to BREEAM – What’s your opinion?

  1. Why has the question I raised been left off this summary? Namely “Why can contractors / clients get BREEAM credits for the type of floor coverings they choose but not for removing say 20 tonnes of unnecessary steel from their building?” Did you not think this was worthy of mentioning? Embodied carbon is a real issue within the industry, is easy to measure and the removal of unnecessary materials can have huge environmental and cost saving benefits. There is an opportunity within the scheme to encourage responsible behaviour in this area. Many companies are doing this already, they’re just not getting the BREEAM credits they deserve.

    • James Parker says:

      Frazer. I apologise for missing your question raised at the event. The blog post was a summary and as such couldn’t include every point. It is a valid issue you raised and something that is only going to get more important. We are finding lots of interest in embodied carbon and energy, and some clients are even asking for calculations in design competitions now. Some of the embodied carbon issues are included in the Materials credits using the GreenGuide, but this is only for structural elements and nothing for services. Where a credit might be awarded is through the Man 05 – Life cycle cost and service life planning credit in the 2011 scheme, or through innovation credits as mentioned at the event. I would hope that this issue is included in the next interation of BREEAM.

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