By Barry Giles
Updated July 2, 2018
Up until the last few years, there have been few options for Class B and C buildings to cost-effectively benchmark and certify buildings using available green building rating systems. Since then, quite a few new programs have entered the American green building market. BREEAM is one of those programs.
However, BREEAM is not new – it was the original green building rating system created in 1990 by BRE (Building Research Establishment) in the United Kingdom. LEED, and some of the newcomers, were built on the foundation of the BREEAM system, either directly or with modifications. Different programs address different needs; we advise exploring which program is best for your building, matches your available budget and the specific outcomes you desire.
When trying to decide which program is the right fit, the first question you want to ask is “Why choose to pursue any green building rating program?” The second question to ask, is “What is your real motivation to embark on a program?
- Are you required to have your building certified to meet federal, state or city requirements?
- Do you want to increase the market value of your portfolio?
- Are you looking to lower your operating costs?
- Are your tenants demanding it?
Researching green building programs before choosing one is a necessary step. For example, you will find that some of the newer programs position themselves as a health promoting “building certification” with a bias towards the health of the occupant (a category that is encompassed by the term “Health & Well-being”). Yet, when you look closely at what is being measured, the only focus is on Health & Well-being.
In comparison, BREEAM In-Use, the program for existing buildings has incorporated Health & Well-being since its inception and includes many other categories that you would expect from the market leading green building rating system.
Of course, the Health & Well-being of tenants is a very important aspect for all buildings as new research suggests. It should be classed, however, as something separate and different than the operations and maintenance aspects of the actual building. BREEAM doesn’t shy away from the current emphasis on Health & Well-being – in fact, BREEAM’s emphasis on Health & Well-being led to an engagement that certifies crosswalks with other programs—a major collaborative initiative being a crosswalk with The International WELL Building Institute TM (IWBI).
Why choose BREEAM?
Today, BRE is owned by a charitable trust that uses the profits to fund research and educational programs to advance knowledge, innovation and communication in all matters of the built environment.
BREEAM In-Use also offers something unique: a very cost-effective benchmarking and certification program that is available to all commercial existing buildings regardless of size, age or performance level across all aspects of building operations.
Many building owners and operators are already finding that some available programs are getting too expensive and require unattainable prerequisites to start. Newer programs do have their place – but most don’t offer a holistic method to improve operations and maintenance. Yet that is exactly what most building owners and operators are most concerned about. That’s why BREEAM reaches out and forms collaborative programs and crosswalks with other schemes to enable building operation teams to “mix and match” criteria to establish a program that exceeds tenants and clients requirements.
The chart below shows which of the 9 holistic categories covered within BREEAM In-Use are also covered in the other programs:
The size of each box represents the impact each category has on the sum total. BREEAM balances the impacts of operations across all 9 categories. WELL for example, focuses exclusively on “Health and Wellbeing”.
Should you be looking for a cost-effective way to benchmark your building, find solutions to improve operations – and have a means to certification all for a registration cost of $1,000 -then BREEAM fits the bill. Plus, BREEAM uses independent licensed assessors that have to make a site-visit for true third-party verification.
What makes BREEAM the green building tool of choice?
- No pre-requisites or Energy Star requirement
- BREEAM In-Use simple structure: it is broken down into 3 parts so you don’t have to certify a whole building – you can just choose between Asset Performance, Building Management or Occupier Management. Or do all three!
It has measurable outcomes
- It covers a wider range of building types, including shopping malls and laboratories
It’s credible and based on science
- BRE has over 90 years of research in the built environment
- BRE Trust donates $75 million to research funding
- Over 450 Peer reviewed papers
It can target entire portfolios.
- BREEAM is an international program across 77 countries
BRE prides itself on remaining beyond reproach and embraces a partnership with you as we build a better world together. Our cutting-edge research brings positive change in the built environment through over 2,250,000 projects registered with BREEAM and over 550,000 certifications awarded worldwide.
That’s a lot of data.
That’s why BREEAM is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It’s the science behind it.