Imminent changes to the 2008 version of BREEAM
5 March 2008, News release from Corporation Green
Some are aware of the imminent changes to BREEAM yet so many more are not - we're not talking small changes as is normally the case with revisions to BREEAM, we are talking fundamental changes - we still don't have all the answers but we can at least go some way to preparing the Industry for another bombshell.
The changes to the 2008 version of BREEAM will bring the scheme into closer alignment with the Code for Sustainable Homes, for example, a post construction review or assessment will become a mandatory requirement of a BREEAM assessment which gives added credibility to the scheme.
Some organisations such as English Partnerships have insisted on Post Construction Reviews (PCR's) as they were concerned about the vulnerability of only using the Design & Procurement assessment which is based on design stage commitments, things that we all know can get blown away when it comes to financial constraints. By insisting on the PCR they were assured of a quality construction as well as a quality design, so this is one example of how the 2008 BREEAM is toughening up. Other measures are likely to include the setting of mandatory minimum levels of performance for things like energy and water. One criticism of BREEAM is that a BREEAM Excellent rating could be achieved without really tackling energy as an issue, on a site benefiting from good local transport links. Minimum standards, such as those that apply to the Code for Sustainable Homes, will ensure that the ratings achieved reflect the combined effort that project teams put into meeting these stringent levels.
Materials selection is another area where we anticipate minimum requirements, for example under the CSH, at least 3 of the 5 key building materials must be A+ to D rated. We believe that a similar approach will be adopted for the BREEAM version, for example, at least 4 of the 7 key building materials to be A+ to D rated in the long awaited 4th edition of the Green Guide to Materials (now due for release April 2008). This in itself is quite easy to achieve as very few products are E rated, however, credits are maximised by selecting higher rated materials; A+ rated products pick up 3 points per element, on the opposite end of the scale D rated materials pick up 0.25 points and E rated materials pick up none.
Other more subtle changes include revising the weightings of categories align to the CSH weightings which were the outcome of a huge consultation process conducted by the BRE where industry was asked to judge the importance of each environmental issue against another. If the categories are also aligned to the CSH, i.e. Transport omitted, Surface Water added and Materials and Waste split into 2 categories, this will mean that energy will have the highest weighting in line with the feedback at a massive 36.4%, water increases to 9% and materials drop to 7.2%.
My personal view is that BREEAM is an excellent tool for measuring the environmental impact of a building, yet it often comes under criticism for 'changing the goalposts' - but that's exactly what BREEAM is designed to do. Achieving any rating under BREEAM means that minimum standards have been surpassed. Over time, best practice, regulations, legislation, and codes of practice all get revised.
If BREEAM stood still, carrying out an assessment would be nothing more than a paperwork exercise, instead BREEAM raises the bar and challenges project teams to meet the higher standards recognised by the BREEAM ratings. The 2008 version brings with it a new rating of 'Outstanding' to recognise those buildings that exceed the requirements of the Excellent rating. Clearly it is these buildings that win the BREEAM awards as well as various other design and construction accolades.
A number of credits may be omitted from the 2008 version; for example anything which has become a legislative requirement since the 2006 version, i.e. Site Waste Management Plans, or things which should be standard practice such as designing systems to minimise the risk of legionella's disease are likely to be omitted.
The 2008 version will see the inclusion of Innovation credits which can be achieved for implementing innovative technologies that have a real environmental benefit, these have worked well under the LEED system in the USA. Incidentally BREEAM was first, I have it on authority from Alan Yates, Technical Director at the BRE, the first version of BREEAM was launched in 1990 with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) following some 7 or 8 years later.
Most people are only aware of the Design & Procurement assessment as it forms such an important part of funding of new build and refurb schemes, however, a Management & Operation scheme also exists - the 2008 version brings a revamp which will be known as BREEAM 'In Use' which will be available for all existing non-domestic buildings and links up with the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) of the EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive).
This version could play a very important role within so many organisations as a demonstration that they work within and operate buildings with low environmental impact, likewise, it may provide a useful guide to others where simple changes and cost effective measures could be put in place in order to increase the rating of their building in an age where so much emphasis is placed on whether companies walk the walk they are so quick to talk about.
BREEAM 2008 will apply to projects registered from 01/08/08 onwards although there is scope to register projects to the new version from 03/05/08, it is pleasing to receive enquiries from some very enlightened clients who are already looking to achieve the Outstanding rating before the version is even available - there is hope!
My view is that the 2008 version will take us closer to our goals of sustainable development and those elusive government targets, however, it wont be cheap and the sooner project teams get stuck into the challenge, the better it will be for us all.
Clare Howe - Sustainability Director - Corporation Green Ltd
Should you require any assistance with any projects or what this may mean to a future development, please contact Clare Howe on 07989 932871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.corporationgreen.co.uk
For further information please email Corporation Green