BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is a rating system to evaluate the environmental impact of a building. As such, it sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation. Since its introduction in 1990, the BREEAM assessment method has been applied to over 200,000 buildings throughout the UK.

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, set against established benchmarks. It encompasses a wide range of criteria, from the way that a building is designed through to its predicted impact on the local ecology. The key criteria are:

  • Energy consumption and carbon emissions
  • Water consumption
  • Health and wellbeing of the internal environment
  • Pollution
  • Impact on local transport networks
  • Materials used (environmental impact and embedded carbon)
  • Waste management
  • Ecology
  • Building management

In assessing the energy performance of a building, BREEAM awards points for the use of low or zero carbon technologies such as Combined Heat & Power (CHP), heat pumps, solar thermal heating, biomass heating etc. To achieve a high environmental performance it is also important to ensure that a building’s services are commissioned correctly and controlled effectively once it enters service.

BREEAM is divided into the following ratings, which are awarded by certified assessors under the UKAS (UK Accreditation Service) competent person scheme:

  • Unclassified
  • Pass
  • Good
  • Very Good
  • Excellent
  • Outstanding (introduced in 2008)

The BREEAM standard covers the following main building types:

  • Retail
  • Offices
  • Education
  • Prisons
  • Courts
  • Healthcare
  • Industrial
  • Specialised buildings assessed under the BREEAM Bespoke method
  • Multi-Residential *

* Individual dwellings are subject to a similar assessment through the Code for Sustainable Homes

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