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BREEAM Assessment: Achieve the ‘Excellent’ rating for your development

BREEAM, which stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is a sustainability assessment method that is widely used, which informs and guides architects and developers when planning projects, buildings and infrastructure within the environment.

BREEAM has had a significant impact on the way that building projects are developed through the design, construction, specification and operational phases. Through the implementation of BREEAM, development projects can now be expected to use sustainable building methods and be sympathetic to the surrounding environment.

BREEAM encourages developers to design and improve designs in order to meet the requirements of the BREEAM model. As a result of this, developments in the future and even existing buildings will become more environmentally friendly and will deliver costs savings through green solutions.

BREEAM assessment

How does BREEAM work?

BREEAM uses a certification system that assesses the environmental performance of the development in regard to overall sustainability. A BREEAM assessment and certification can be undertaken at any stage of a development’s lifecycle. This typically begins at the design stage through to construction and then to the post construction phase and future refurbishment.

The certification of a development project is then carried out by a professional BREEAM assessor. The assessor will gather a range of evidence at each stage and compile it into a report and send it to BRE. Following this process, a rating will be given to a project which will be a rating that is a reflection of the building’s sustainability. An assessment will consider a variety of factors, including:

  • Energy and water use
  • Management processes
  • Internal environment
  • Pollution
  • Transport
  • Ecology
  • Waste
  • Materials

A BREEAM rating can range from pass, good, very good and excellent. Depending on the rating given, a number of methods and suggestions to be carried out to improve the rating of a development will be provided by the assessor.

Design Phase Review

Each development project is provided with a design phase review that usually consists of a preliminary design phase review and a final design phase review. The Green Building Council (GBCI) has the formal rule on this phase and designates each credit as denied or anticipated.

Participating in the design phase review does not guarantee the award of any credits and does not result in BREEAM certification. However, a design stage review does give developers an idea of the credits likely to be achieved and the rating that may be given.

BREEAM assessment stages

There are three main stages in the BREEAM assessment process which allows developers and the assessor to agree and set realistic targets to meet the required BREEAM standard for the desired rating. These assessment stages include the following:

Pre assessment


The first step in the assessment is an early, informal review of the sustainability of the development and provides advice on key elements that must be incorporated into the detailed design. An action list specifying the evidence required from the developers is issued to each member of the design team to ensure all parties are aware of the obligations needed in the design.

Design stage assessment


The design stage assessment is typically carried out when the detailed drawings, specifications and calculations of a development are available to review. The designs are assessed against the credit criteria that is outlined in the BREEAM requirements, and credits are assigned based on the evidence provided in the designs.

Post construction stage assessment


The final stage of the assessment is completed after construction and is based on the evidence provided in the assessment prior. The development will be assessed thoroughly to ensure that all of the commitments that were made in the design stage were in fact met.

Why should I use BREEAM?

The popularity of the BREEAM assessment method has continued to climb following its introduction, with over 70 countries using its system. Statistics show that over 550,000 developments are currently certified by the BREEAM scheme, and over 2 million developments are registered to be assessed by a licensed assessor.

As the United Kingdom moves towards carbon neutrality and is encouraged by the government, it is expected that the use of BREEAM will continue to grow. Around half of the local planning authorities in England use the BREEAM assessment method in their development framework, and it is often a factor that is considered within planning applications to obtain planning permission.

For example, excellent BREEAM ratings are now required for all new education and healthcare projects and for any new government buildings. Many local planning authorities have incorporated this requirement to ensure that specific developments meet the minimum BREEAM rating (at least a ‘very good’ rating).

BREEAM has helped to place a greater focus on the way that developments are planned and constructed. It has put a greater focus on minimising construction waste, improving the natural environment for wildlife in the surrounding areas and finding methods to reduce CO2 emissions.

How Can Collington Winter Assist?

Obtaining a BREEAM rating through an assessment can be a major factor when attempting to obtain planning permission through a planning application with your local planning authority. You must ensure that you are taking the correct measures to meet the BREEAM requirements in order to receive an ‘excellent’ rating.

One of the first steps in this process is to book an experienced ecologist to provide the necessary advice to meet these requirements and any guidance on methods to increase a development’s rating.

Our team of BREEAM ecologists have helped numerous clients over the years. BREEAM is something that we are qualified and experienced in, and we can offer advice on your development project. We are determined to offer you the support you need both pre and post development.

Our Ecology Director, Olivia Collington, holds a Natural England license. Feel free to contact us using the details below if you would like to find out more about the services we provide and our wide ranging case studies.

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