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BREEAM (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method) , Sep 25, 2020

What is BREEAM?

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method) is the world’s first sustainability rating scheme for the built environment and has contributed much to the strong focus in the UK on sustainability in building design, construction and use. BREEAM is now an international standard that is locally adapted, operated and applied through a network of international operators, assessors and industry professionals. Through its application and use BREEAM helps clients measure and reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings and in doing so create higher value, lower risk assets.

To-date, BREEAM has been used to certify over 2,300,000 building assessments across the building life cycle and it is being applied in over 87 countries.

Aims of BREEAM

  • To mitigate the life cycle impacts of buildings on the environment
  • To enable buildings to be recognised according to their environmental benefits
  • To provide a credible, environmental label for buildings
  • To stimulate demand and create value for sustainable buildings, building products and supply chains.

Objectives of BREEAM

  • To provide market recognition of buildings with a low environmental impact
  • To ensure best environmental practice is incorporated in the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings and the wider built environment.
  • To define a robust, cost-effective performance standard surpassing that required by regulations.
  • To challenge the market to provide innovative, cost effective solutions that minimise the environmental impact of buildings.
  • To raise awareness amongst owners, occupants, designers and operators of the benefits and value of buildings with a reduced life cycle impact on the environment.
  • To allow organisations to demonstrate progress towards corporate environmental objectives.

What goes into a BREEAM Guide?

Current BREEAM Standard is 2018. The standards will be renewed in 2022.

The guide should be designed for the following user groups (where relevant):

  • The building’s staff (or where relevant residents)
  • The non-technical facilities management team/building manager
  • Other building users e.g. visitors / community users

This can be achieved by splitting the guide into individual sections or by splitting topics by user group. To make this simpler we generally divide topics up as follows:

  • Just Visiting (usually a separate section at the front of the guide)
  • At a Glance
  • In Depth

This enables information to be presented in a way which allows the reader to pick and choose what is relevant to them.


The BREEAM guidance under the New Construction 2014 scheme details what topics the guide should cover. Therefore it is important that your guide, as a minimum has the following sections:

Contents page:

This should confirm the topics which have been included and on which pages

Introduction/How to use the guide:

This should provide details of what the guide is for and how it works (i.e. if you are splitting the topics by user (see above) then explain what is relevant and to who).

Overview of the building and its environmental strategy:

This should be kept reasonably short but should details of how the building works in terms of layout and use, but should also briefly cover information on the buildings environmental strategy (e.g. energy/water/waste efficiency policy/strategy) and how users should engage with/deliver it.

Building services overview and access to controls:

This section should very definitely be split between building users/visitors and the building/facilities management.

For building users/visitors it should simply be limited to what they need to know (i.e. how to control the lighting/temperature/ventilation on a local scale, how to operate systems such as dual flush toilets etc and, if appropriate, some simple tips for using the building ‘out of hours’).

For building/facilities management, the guide should go into slightly more depth and should perhaps cover issues such as simple maintenance/replacement issues and the control of lighting/temperature/ventilation on a wider scale (i.e. for the whole building etc). However, it is important to remember that this is a non technical guide and therefore should not go into too much technical detail.

Pre-arrival information for visitors:

This section is predominately for visitors, but it is also useful for building users and or managers to know how to deal with visitors. This section should include brief details of the visitor management strategy including:

  • Transport (Including directions, parking and public transport policies)
  • Access (Including any access issues and signing in)
  • Facilities (Including details of any toilets, showers, canteens etc)
  • Shared Facilities (see below)

Provision of and access to shared facilities:

This section only applies where there are shared facilities within the development but should cover all aspects of how to use the shared facilities as follows:

  • How to book
  • What is available, to who and when
  • Access arrangement (in and out of hours)
  • Any other information (costs, available equipment etc).

Safety and emergency information / instructions:

This section should be split into user groups and, on a simple level, it should cover what to do in an emergency (i.e. location of fire muster points etc) and also confirm if and when alarms are to be routinely tested. For building managers, this section should also include information on fire marshalling, testing/maintenance regimes for emergency systems and emergency contact numbers.

Building related operational procedures specific to building type/operation:

This section will vary from development to development, but could include special operational procedures for the use of laboratories, controlled spaces or any specialist access arrangements etc.

Building related incident reporting/feedback arrangements:

This section should be effectively split into a chain with details of how building users report problems to the building/facilities management and in turn how they deal with this and or pass it on to the relevant person.

Building related training information / links:

This section should provide details of what building training is available and who delivers it and when. In terms of the building/facilities management, this may include links to specialist outside companies (i.e. for building services operation etc).

Provision of and access to transport facilities:

This section should include details of what transport facilities are available, including:

  • Car/motorbike parking spaces (including information for disabled/car share only spaces)
  • Cyclist facilities (including details of any showers/lockers etc)
  • Provision of public transport (Including details of nearest stops/stations, destinations and timetables)
  • Contact details for taxi firms
  • Details of any green travel initiatives

Provision of and access to local amenities:

This section should provide details of local businesses and services relevant to the building users (i.e. cash machines, post boxes, grocery stores, chemists, medical centres etc) and include details on how find them (location maps etc).

Re-fit, refurbishment and maintenance arrangements/considerations:

This section is predominately for the building management and should include details for the maintenance and replacement of building services/fabric and also considerations for re-fitting/refurbishment of the development (e.g. the location of services and load bearing walls etc as well as access and fire considerations). Again, this section should not be too technical and should refer back to the maintenance guides and O&M manuals.

Links, references and relevant contact details:

This section speaks for itself. However, it is important that it is limited to the relevant sections and isn’t ‘bulked out’ with general websites etc which are not directly relevant.

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