Understanding BREEAM certification: building sustainability for the future

May 16, 2023

BREEAM certification, short for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is a widely recognised environmental assessment and certification scheme in the United Kingdom. This article explores the benefits of BREEAM certification, the certification process, duration, costs, and how smart building analytics can help improve BREEAM ratings. Whether you're a company or building owner interested in sustainable practices, understanding BREEAM certification is crucial for creating greener and more efficient built environments.

Jump to:

What is BREEAM certification?

What get BREEAM certified?


How to get certified

How long does certification last?

Certification costs

How building analytics can help

What is BREEAM certification?

The BREEAM certification evaluates the sustainability performance of buildings across various categories, including energy efficiency, water usage, indoor environmental quality, materials, management processes, and ecological impact. By assessing and certifying buildings based on rigorous criteria, BREEAM promotes sustainable practices in the construction and operation of buildings, aiming to reduce environmental impacts, improve resource efficiency, and create healthier and more sustainable built environments.

Why do companies want BREEAM certification?

Companies and commercial property owners seek BREEAM certification for several reasons, as it offers numerous benefits that align with their goals and objectives. The following are key reasons why BREEAM certification is beneficial:

  • Demonstrating Sustainability Leadership: BREEAM certification allows companies to showcase their commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. It provides a credible and recognised framework to demonstrate that a commercial property has been assessed and achieved high sustainability standards, setting it apart from non-certified buildings.
  • Enhancing Market Value and Attractiveness: BREEAM-certified buildings often enjoy increased market desirability. They appeal to environmentally-conscious tenants, investors, and customers who prioritise sustainable practices. Certification can positively impact occupancy rates, rental prices, property value, and overall market competitiveness.
  • Cost Savings and Operational Efficiency: BREEAM encourages the implementation of energy-efficient technologies, water management systems, and sustainable building practices. By optimising resource usage and reducing energy consumption, commercial property owners can achieve significant cost savings through reduced utility bills and operational expenses.

What is the difference between BREEAM and LEED?

BREEAM and LEED certification are two prominent green building certification systems with some key differences, BREEAM vs LEED.

  • Regional focus: BREEAM is widely used in Europe and has schemes tailored to regional and national contexts, while LEED is predominantly used in North America but has gained international recognition
  • Certification process: BREEAM uses licensed assessors who examine the building’s evidence against the credit criteria and report it to BREEAM’s parent company, BRE, to assess. LEED’s design team collects evidence for their certification. They then send the data to the USGBC, who examines it and issues the certificate if it meets their demands.
  • Certification Levels: BREEAM offers certification levels ranging from Pass to Outstanding, while LEED has Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels.
  • Scoring System: BREEAM uses a weighted scoring system, where different sustainability issues carry different weights. LEED uses a point-based system, where projects must achieve a minimum number of points for certification.

How can building owners get BREEAM certified?

Building owners can obtain BREEAM certification for their buildings by following a structured process that involves the following steps:

  1. Pre-Assessment: Building owners can engage a BREEAM advisor or assessor at the early stages to conduct a pre-assessment. This step helps determine the building's sustainability potential, understand the certification requirements, and identify strategies for achieving certification.
  1. Design Stage Assessment: During the design phase of the building, an independent BREEAM assessor assesses the design plans and specifications against the BREEAM criteria. The assessor provides guidance and recommendations to maximise sustainability and meet the certification targets.
  1. Post-Construction Assessment: After the completion of the building, a final assessment is conducted by the BREEAM assessor. The assessor evaluates the actual performance of the building, including energy efficiency, water management, waste reduction, and overall environmental impact. Site visits and document reviews are typically part of this assessment.
  1. Certification and Rating: Based on the assessment results, the building is awarded a BREEAM certification rating. The rating levels range from "Pass" to "Outstanding," reflecting the building's sustainability achievements. The certificate and rating are issued to the building owner, who can then use them to showcase the building's sustainability credentials.

How long does BREEAM certification last?

BREEAM certification is valid for a period of three years after the certification date. By enabling cyclical reassessment and recertification, BREEAM enables continual monitoring, reporting and improvement of sustainability performance over time.

How much does BREEAM certification cost?

The cost of BREEAM certification can vary depending on various factors, such as the size and complexity of the building, the chosen BREEAM scheme, and the specific services required. Here are some key cost considerations for BREEAM certification:

Asset Registration fees: To register an asset on the BREEAM In-Use Online Platform, owners must pay a fee of £620 per asset.

Certification fees: Obtaining the certificates for all three parts of the BREEAM In-Use scheme (Asset Performance, Management Performance and Occupier Management) incurs a total fee of £2440 per asset. 

Assessor fees: BREEAM certification involves engaging an independent licensed BREEAM assessor who will assess and evaluate the building's sustainability performance. The assessor's fees are separate from any certification fees, and typically depend on factors such as the size and complexity of the project.

How can CIM help you improve your BREEAM rating?

The use of smart building analytics, such as CIM's PEAK platform, can significantly support building owners in improving their BREEAM rating by providing valuable data-driven insights and optimisation opportunities. Here's how it can help:

Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Smart building analytics platforms can collect and analyse real-time data from various building systems, including HVAC, lighting, and equipment. By identifying energy inefficiencies, such as suboptimal operation or equipment malfunctions, building owners can take corrective actions to meet BREEAM's energy efficiency requirements.

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) optimisation: Smart building analytics can monitor and analyse factors that impact indoor environmental quality, such as temperature, humidity, air quality, and lighting. By identifying areas of concern and understanding occupant behaviour, building owners can make informed decisions to improve IEQ, create healthier indoor environments, and meet BREEAM's IEQ requirements.

Real-time Performance Monitoring: Smart building analytics provide real-time performance monitoring, allowing building owners to track key sustainability metrics and indicators. This visibility enables proactive decision-making, timely interventions, and ongoing performance optimisation, aligning with BREEAM's focus on continuous improvement and monitoring.

Data Reporting and Compliance: Smart analytics platforms offer robust reporting capabilities, providing the necessary data and documentation required for BREEAM certification. Building owners can generate reports on energy usage, resource management, IEQ parameters, and other relevant metrics, streamlining the certification process and demonstrating compliance with BREEAM requirements.

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CIM Team
May 16, 2023