Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)


BREEAM is a method of measuring and assessing the sustainability of techniques used in the construction industry.

The assessment measures various environmental performance categories including: -

  • Energy Consumption – measuring and minimising energy consumption during a construction project. Making sure that energy efficient equipment is used during construction. To adopt building design and construction methods that will result in energy efficient buildings.
  • Sustainable Materials usage –  for example purchasing wood from sustainable and renewable resources.
  • Pollution control and minimisation – ensuring that activities on site do not allow potentially polluting substances to enter into the environment.
  • Sustainable transport – to encourage use of public transport, provide a workforce which lives locally to the project. To use low carbon transport.
  • Waste minimisation, Recycling – To minimise the materials wastage on a project and to ensure that if there are waste materials they are recycled wherever possible.
  • Sustainable water consumption - To reduce the consumption of potable water for sanitary use in new buildings from all sources through the use of water efficient components and water recycling systems.

The BREEAM system requires constructions to introduce environmental performance into their construction planning.  With the objective of minimising the environmental impacts during construction and to produce buildings which are environmentally efficient after construction.



BREEAM Categories and Ratings

The BREEAM Category relates to a building type and the type of construction process and is usually ‘obvious’, because there are so few Categories:

  • BREEAM Commercial Newbuild 2xxx (where 2xxx is the year / edition of the standard applicable)
  • BREEAM Commercial Refurbishment 2xxx
  • BREEAM Residential Newbuild 2xxx
  • BREEAM Residential Refurbishment 2xxx

Incidentally, the Ministry of Defence has its own version of the BREEAM standard (DREEAM).

The required BREEAM Rating that a building must achieve and the Category are set at the Planning Approval stage by the relevant Planning Authority and includes Excellent, Very Good, etc.

Categories of buildings which automatically have to achieve a BREEAM Rating include:

  • Health (e.g. Hospitals)
  • Education (e.g. Universities)
  • Leisure (e.g. Leisure Centres)

The above are ‘public sector’ buildings, but a BREEAM Commercial Rating is now required of any commercial building in greater London.


BREEAM credits

BREEAM employs a scoring system where each category is sub-divided into a range of assessment issues, each with its own aim, target and benchmarks. A qualified independent BREEAM assessor will assess the performance of the construction against BREEAM targets or benchmarks. The assessor then awards credits dependant upon how well the construction has done against the targets. For example, if a building design resulted in a net zero energy requirement then it would be awarded 15 BREEAM credits against the energy category. To be zero rated it would probably need solar power or other renewable energy resources built in. Other energy minimisation methods such as high levels of insulation would also give some credits but not as many as a zero-rated building.

Each of the BREEAM categories is scored separately and when the development has been fully assessed, the final performance Rating is determined by the sum of the weighted category scores.


Experience of existing BREEAM projects has shown that building sustainability into the project does not increase building costs significantly but can significantly reduce the subsequent running costs of the property owners, providing significant whole life cycle savings. This increases the overall perception of the building quality and adds value to it.

Users of the BREEAM system generally speak highly of it and would recommend others to use it.

If you need help or advice on BREEAM then please contact us:- , email [email protected] , or call 01604 859961.

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