BREEAM Certification: A comprehensive Guide to Assessing Sustainable Buildings

Written by AKNO Group

Oct 13, 2023

AKNO Business Park Piacenza, certificato BREEAM

Learn about BREEAM Certification, its Significance in the Assessment of Sustainable Buildings and How it Stands out in the Field of Environmental Performance.

BREEAM Certification: The Gold Standard in Sustainable Building Assessment

In the ever-changing world of sustainable architecture and construction, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) has emerged as the leading certification system. Established in the UK in 1990, BREEAM has set the benchmark for best practice in sustainable design and has become the yardstick used to describe a building’s environmental performance.


What is BREEAM?

BREEAM is a voluntary certification scheme developed in England in 1990. It is promoted and managed by the Building Research Establishment based in London. The main objective of BREEAM is to classify and certify the environmental sustainability of buildings, with a significant focus on social aspects as well.


The Difference between BREEAM and LEED

Although both BREEAM and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are renowned green building certification systems, they have distinct methodologies. BREEAM differs in the role of the BREEAM certifier, a BRE-certified professional. This assessor is appointed by the client to issue the certification after a meticulous analysis and on-site verification of the project.


Differences between LEED and BREEAM

These are voluntary international environmental certification protocols, the best known in the building industry.

While both certification systems are based on environmental sustainability criteria, there are some differences between LEED and BREEAM. The former focuses more on the energy efficiency and environmental performance of buildings, while the latter pays more attention to the health and well-being of occupants.


LEED Certification

LEED certification analyses the performance of buildings according to eight criteria:

  • – transportation and location
  • – sustainability of the site
  • – water resource efficiency
  • – energy and atmosphere
  • – construction materials and resources
  • – quality of the indoor environment
  • – innovation
  • – regional priority.

Points are awarded to each criterion, the sum of which (minimum 40, maximum 110) constitutes four levels of certification: basic, gold, silver and platinum.


BREEAM Certification

BREEAM certification is used to assess the sustainability of buildings and the well-being of the people living in them. This assessment is made on the basis of 10 criteria:

  • – management
  • – health and well-being
  • – energy
  • – transportation
  • – water
  • – materials
  • – waste management
  • – land use and ecology
  • – pollution
  • – innovation


Each category will be given a score, the sum of which (minimum rating of 10% and maximum of 100%) constitutes 6 levels of certification: Acceptable, Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding.


Explanation of the BREEAM Assessment Process

To obtain BREEAM certification for a building, the designated BREEAM assessor conducts an audit to evaluate the building’s environmental sustainability requirements. The certification report, prepared by the assessor, is then submitted to the BRE. This report details the BREEAM score for each category, such as:

  • management
  • health and well-being
  • energy
  • transport
  • water
  • materials
  • waste
  • land use
  • ecology pollution


The cumulative credit score determines the building‘s environmental performance rating and corresponding certification level. The levels range from Exceptional (85 and above) to Not Classified (below 30).


When to apply for BREEAM Certification?

BREEAM certification can be applied for at various stages of a building’s life cycle:


  • Design phase (leading to a provisional certificate)
  • Post-construction phase (resulting in final certificate)
  • Operational phase (BREEAM in use for existing buildings)
  • Different manuals and technical schemes apply to buildings depending on their intended use or the nature of the building intervention. In Italy, ‘international’ protocols and technical manuals apply, as there are no country-specific protocols.


The Importance of BREEAM in Today’s World

With the increasing emphasis on sustainable building and environmental conservation, certifications such as BREEAM play a key role. They not only ensure that buildings meet the highest environmental standards, but also promote a holistic approach to sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental dimensions.


BREEAM certification is more than just a badge of honour for buildings. It is a testament to a building’s commitment to sustainability, environmental responsibility and the well-being of its occupants. As the world moves towards a greener future, certifications such as BREEAM will become even more crucial in shaping the built environment.


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