What is BREEAM and why is it important?

image of BREEAM sustainable building

In every walk of life today, sustainability plays a vital role. And in the world of construction, that means BREEAM.

This international method is the gold standard when it comes to assessing the environmental impact of buildings. And with sustainable construction not only in increased demand, but often a legal requirement, getting your head around BREEAM is essential if you’re planning any type of project.

In this quick-fire guide, we cover the key BREEAM basics you need to know.

1. What is BREEAM?

BREEAM is short for ‘Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method’. It was first established by the UK’s Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990, and related versions of BREEAM have been designed and adopted in over 70 countries all over the world.

The general principle behind BREEAM is that it sets out what best practice looks like in terms of sustainable design, and in defining the methods used to measure and quantify the environmental performance and impact of a building.

It’s therefore an extremely useful tool for ensuring that buildings are designed, constructed and operated in a sufficiently compliant manner.

2. How do BREEAM ratings work?

A BREEAM assessment takes many different factors into account, including (but not necessarily limited to): Ecology, Efficiency, Energy, Health and Wellbeing, Management, Materials, Pollution, Transport, Water Consumption, and Waste. Assessments take place initially during the design stage, and then after construction is completed, following which official certification is given.

The total points scored are calculated as a percentage of the maximum, from which a rating is applied. A score of 30% constitutes a ‘Pass’: 55% is required for ‘Very Good’ and 70% is required for ‘Excellent’.

Only around 10% of new commercial buildings in the UK achieve ‘Excellent’ status, while less than 1% reach the 85% score required for an ‘Outstanding’ rating.

3. Why is BREEAM so important?

BREEAM is considered the benchmark in sustainable buildings by national and local authorities. The Government has made it a legal requirement for all public building projects to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’. Additionally, the majority of English local planning authorities require BREEAM certification for building work and developments: getting permission for work may be significantly more challenging if certification of a high rating is not in place.

But rather than just an extra hoop for property developers to jump through, BREEAM can also work in your favour.

The higher demand for sustainable buildings means that a high BREEAM rating can add desirability and value to a property, whether being made available for sale or rent. The adoption of eco-friendly features required to get the high rating – energy-efficient lighting and heating, for example – can also deliver financial benefits through lower running and maintenance costs over time.

And for businesses working in property development, being able to demonstrate high BREEAM compliance can be a key selling point around social responsibility that will resonate with customers and the general public.

At Buildsmith Solutions, we have years of experience working sustainability into all of the projects we take on.

We know BREEAM inside-out, and can give independent advice on your development plans and any changes you might need to make to get a higher rating. And with rising demand for sustainability in construction, committing the time and resources to work more environmentally friendly features into your project may well turn out to be a smart investment.

Get in touch with our team today for a friendly, no-obligation chat.