The Research Behind BREEAM

By Barry Giles

BREEAM, the original green building rating system, was created by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990. First established in 1921, BRE is a world-leading, multi-disciplinary building science center carrying out its mission to improve the built environment.

BRE leverages cutting-edge research to develop a range of services and standards used around the world to create positive change in the built environment. BREEAM is one of BRE’s most successful services. So where does the pioneering research come from and how do we turn it into BREEAM?

Primary research is funded by a charity, the BRE Trust, which is the largest single funder of education and research on the built environment. The Trust has strategic partnerships with nine universities around the world. These partnerships allow the Trust to provide $75 million in research grants, supporting over 300 PhD students and producing over 450 peer-reviewed published papers. That is a lot of research and expertise to draw upon when developing BREEAM.

A shining example of how BRE turns science into standards is daylighting.

Daylighting is a key element of sustainable building design, promoting both well-being and reducing lighting requirements. In 1980, BRE experts wrote the original “daylight factor” calculations. Since then there have been a number of new proposals developed by others, including the LENI (Light Energy Numeric Indicator). Despite widespread use, the LENI equations had never been evaluated in a peer-reviewed paper. So BRE Trust sponsored research that thoroughly tested these algorithms.

This research resulted in improved daylight metrics that are achievable and avoid over-glazing, improving conditions for building occupants and reducing costs for building developers and owners. This trailblazing research is currently feeding into new international standards and future revisions of BREEAM.

Other examples of how we turn science into BREEAM? Whenever we include issues in a BREEAM program we ensure the science is robust, an improvement over regulation (if possible), as well as valuable and appropriate for that lifecycle stage.

At BRE we don’t just embed the latest research into BREEAM, we also do the research.

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.