Reaching the heights of BREEAM Outstanding

A seismic shift in planning requirements is on the horizon; starting in London and eventually and quickly spreading across the rest of the UK. It will result in the planning authorities asking for commercial buildings to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating. The issue with this is that BREEAM Outstanding developments, in comparison to those that are Excellent and Very Good – the most common planning requirements at the moment – is the cost in achieving it is significantly higher.

A recent CPD webinar – hosted by the Institute of Environmental Sciences in partnership with Kartik Amrania (BREEAM Assessor of the Year 2016) of Sweco (BREEAM Company of the Year 2014 and 2016) – discussed the growing awareness of achieving the high specification Outstanding Rating for sustainability provided by the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) BREEAM scheme.  They discussed some of their projects in the UK that have achieved this difficult level of BREEAM, but a level that will soon become the industry norm.

On the BREEAM side, projects will then require a tactful and experienced Assessor and team to find credits that are “Easy Wins” or “Free”. The Assessor will also need to produce “out-of-the-box” thinking and look for opportunities in the design where innovation credits can be achieved. The BREEAM Assessor will also need to challenge design decisions to ensure choices made result in the most efficient and sustainable building and therefore achieve credits.

The best way to prepare a project for the daunting task of achieving BREEAM Outstanding, is to not see BREEAM as a planning requirement or a “tick box” scheme, but as a design tool. Allow it to influence the concept design and be a part of the development. Allow members of the team to get to know BREEAM and get on board with the goals of what it takes to achieve an Outstanding building.  One of the biggest challenges is the choice of materials, so it pays to select a contractor that will wish to achieve these goals with you and involve your BREEAM Assessor in the selection of your materials as well as water consuming products and meters.

Most importantly, make sure you involve the following experienced and able professionals to help give you advice on the best design solutions to achieve high building performance and consequential BREEAM Outstanding rating: Ecologist, Flood Risk Assessor, Acoustician, Contaminated Land Specialist, Public Consultation Specialist and Security Specialist.  It would also be wise to have thermal modelling exercises conducted to understand where to add/reduce cooling loads.

We here at Darren Evans Assessments are already helping our clients to get the best value out of BREEAM and overcome the challenges faced in achieving high sustainability credentials which are required for BREEAM Outstanding rated buildings. With early involvement, we can assist and advise a client and their supply chain as to the best methods to achieve a truly aspirational and sustainable building.

Are you going to join us in raising the bar on sustainability standards and a greener future for the built environment?

To find out how we can support you on your BREEAM projects do give us a call on 0333 5777 577 and one of our BREEAM Assessors will be on hand to answers any questions.

Written by Katie Smart, BREEAM Assessor & Ecologist, Darren Evans Assessments.