BREEAM Assessments Provides Sustainability in Five Stages
Over the past three decades a quiet revolution has been taking place in our built environment, and it’s one we should be proud of. It has come about through persistence, government regulation and a very steep learning curve, but we are now beginning to see the benefits of the BREEAM assessment. BREEAM was introduced in 1990 with the aim of raising awareness amongst builders, developers and planners of sustainability by design. In the intervening years the team at Hilsdon Holmes have worked on countless new BREEAM assessments in London and around the UK and we are delighted to report that a sustainable approach to building projects is fast becoming ‘business as usual’.
How Does BREEAM Assessment Work?
The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) takes place over four to five stages which cover the cycle of planning, construction and completion in building, renovation or refurbishment projects. The use of a staged assessment demonstrates that effective sustainability is a process which begins with design and continues through the choice of materials and technologies, up until the final testing process once the build is complete.
The BREEAM Assessment Stages
- Pre-assessment – this takes the form of a meeting between designers and the BREEAM assessor. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the BREEAM criteria and determine the potential rating for the planned development. A pre-assessment report is prepared by the BREEAM assessor which demonstrates the means by which the build project will achieve the rating. During this period the BREEAM assessor works closely with the design team to determine the credits they will pursue in order to meet the rating they have submitted. Credits are achieved through, for example, the use of sustainable technologies, materials and approaches to building which demonstrate that the conservation of energy and the reduction of carbon emissions as an operational goal.
- Design Stage – The pre-assessment will be transferred into a design stage tracker document which will identify the credit criteria, the evidence required and who is to provide it. This will be updated regularly to show progress in meeting the required score. As the design is developed, the team will need to provide drawings, specifications, professional reports/studies and letters of commitment to show the design intent to meet the credit criteria for those issues which are being targeted. This information will form the basis of the design stage assessment and once the BREEAM assessor is satisfied with the evidence provided and completed their report, this will be submitted to the BRE for award of the Interim Certificate and rating.
- Construction – If required, we can carry out the role of Sustainability Champion, our BREEAM assessors can maintain close contact with build projects throughout construction although, at this stage, the focus is upon the application of sustainability planning and the assessor has an advisory role only.
- Post Construction Report – once the build is complete, the role of the BREEAM assessor is to perform onsite checks and review the final as built information and evidence provided by the design and construction team to ensure that the commitments made in the design stage have been implemented.
Back in the early nineties there was a sense that BREEAM was just more ‘red tape’ for developers to contend with. This is no longer the case, BREEAM assessors are valued for their contribution to the design of a new build and there is recognition that sustainable technologies are both necessary for a healthy environment and cost-effective for consumers.