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How Does a BREEAM Assessment Work?
30 March, 2022

The BREEAM assessment method is a highly regarded and internationally recognised measure of sustainability.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) measures a building’s impact on the environment.

Given the global importance of sustainability, the BREEAM assessment method is increasingly being adopted as a mandatory requirement by local planning authorities. Achieving a high score across the different BREEAM assessment categories is essential for achieving a high rating, as well as ensuring a project is sustainable.

In this article, we explain how the BREEAM assessment method works and what the different BREEAM assessment categories are.

How Are BREEAM Assessments Carried Out?

BREEAM assessments are carried out to determine the overall sustainability of an individual building, an infrastructure project or a community as a whole.

The BREEAM assessment method measures specific categories related to sustainability and the environment, such as water and energy usage, management policies and the materials used in construction.

This assessment is always carried out by an independent, impartial, third-party assessor who must hold the BREEAM Assessor qualification.

A qualified BREEAM Assessor will evaluate a project based on the latest regulations issued by BRE, the most recent being BREEAM New Construction 2018.

Companies, architects and designers looking to achieve the best possible BREEAM ratings are encouraged to engage the expertise of a qualified BREEAM AP throughout a project. This ensures that BREEAM’s sustainability criteria can be met and exceeded from start to finish.

How Are BREEAM Assessments Scored?

BREEAM assessments are carried out by a BREEAM Assessor who marks a building or project based on 10 different sustainability categories. Each of these BREEAM assessment categories has a number of credits allocated to it and the overall score is the sum of these.

The assessor will provide a benchmarked percentage score based on the total number of credits gained in each assessment category. This provides the building with its overall rating. There are six classifications:

  • Outstanding (minimum 85%)
  • Excellent (minimum 70%)
  • Very Good (minimum 55%)
  • Good (minimum 45%)
  • Pass (minimum 30%)
  • Unclassified (less than 30%)

The highest possible score is Outstanding. Less than 1% of buildings will achieve Outstanding. An Excellent score is achieved by 10% of buildings, while the majority will receive scores between Pass and Very Good. If a building fails to meet the minimum 30% it is unclassified and is not given a BREEAM rating.

What Are the BREEAM Assessment Categories?

The BREEAM assessment method considers 10 categories, which cover a range of areas associated with any development. These distinct BREEAM assessment categories gauge a building’s sustainability as comprehensively as possible.

For a building to achieve the highest possible score it must achieve credits in all BREEAM Assessment categories:

  • Energy: How energy efficient is a building? How much energy usage or wastage is there?
  • Management: How well is a building or project managed? Are there sustainability focused management policies in place?
  • Water: How much water does a construction project require? How much water does the building require to remain operational?
  • Waste: How much waste is produced by a construction project? Where does the waste end up?
  • Pollution: How much pollution results from the building? How can pollution be limited or removed entirely?
  • Health and Wellbeing: What health and safety measures are in place? Is there adequate ventilation and lighting?
  • Materials: Which materials are used to construct a building? Where are they sourced? Are they sustainable?
  • Transport: How accessible is a building to those who live or work there? Is the building easily connected to existing public transport?
  • Land usage: Is this a brownfield or a greenfield site? How is the surrounding environment and wildlife impacted?
  • Innovation: How innovative is the design? How innovative are the building’s sustainability policies?

The assessment method recognises that certain factors are more important than others. This means that certain categories carry more weight and are therefore more effective in producing a higher overall score.

The highest scoring BREEAM assessment categories include energy, management and health and wellbeing. For example, the energy category accounts for approximately 20% compared with public transport accounting for 8%.

At What Stage Are BREEAM Assessments Carried Out?

BREEAM assessments can be carried out at various stages of a project.

A BREEAM assessment is first undertaken during the initial design stage of a project. This allows project managers, architects and developers to understand how sustainable their existing design will be and where improvements can be made.

A BREEAM assessment can also be carried out once construction has been completed. It would then provide a measure of how sustainable the completed buildings are, and again where improvements can be made.

BREEAM can also be used to measure the sustainability of an existing building to determine the impact the building has on the environment and how this can be improved.

The assessment can also be carried out when a building is scheduled to be refurbished, redesigned or repurposed, allowing sustainability factors to be improved.

Contact SRE

SRE are experts in BREEAM and the different BREEAM assessment categories.

Our experienced team of consultants are licensed to carry out independent BREEAM assessments and possess the knowledge to help your project meet its sustainability targets. To find out more, visit our BREEAM Hub.

If you need sustainability assistance, call us on 01730 710044.