Why does BREEAM require evidence?
BREEAM is a third party assessment and certification scheme operated in accordance with international standards. Operating to international standards ensures that certification schemes such as BREEAM are run in a consistent and reliable manner. The BREEAM Assessor's assessment report and the BRE Global quality assurance process are the fundamental tenets of BREEAM, ensuring consistency of, and confidence in, the BREEAM rating awarded by the assessor.
To maintain this consistency and credibility, all certification decisions must be based on verified and credible project information that is traceable, i.e. evidence based. This is not only important for ensuring compliance with the international standards to which BREEAM operates, but also in terms of managing risk to clients and BREEAM Assessors in the event that a certification outcome is challenged.
The assessment report and the BREEAM Assessor role
It is the BREEAM Assessor who determines the BREEAM rating and the assessment report is the formal record of an assessor's audit against the criteria defined in the Technical Manual for a BREEAM scheme. The BREEAM certificate issued by BRE Global provides assurance that the service provided by the assessor (that is, the process of producing the assessment report) has been conducted in accordance with the requirements of the scheme. The purpose of the certificate is therefore to give confidence to the client in the assessor's performance and processes in determining a BREEAM rating.
It is the role of the assessor to gather project information and use it to assess performance against the BREEAM scheme in a competent and impartial manner. To award a BREEAM credit, the assessor must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the evidence gathered demonstrates unambiguous compliance with all relevant criteria defined in the BREEAM scheme. All evidence must be appropriately referenced in the formal report produced by the assessor and made available on request from BRE Global Ltd for quality assurance checks.
Clear, ordered and well referenced evidence for each BREEAM issue and criterion facilitates efficient quality assurance and certification. BREEAM Assessors can access further guidance on assessment report referencing in Assessor Guidance Note 01, and the 'reporting process' webinar, both available from the BREEAM Assessor Guidance section of the BREEAM Assessor extranet.
Evidence should not necessarily need to be prepared specifically for the purpose of the BREEAM assessment. In many instances, the assessor should be able to source readily available and prepared project information for the purpose of demonstrating compliance. For this reason, BREEAM aims to avoid being prescriptive on the type of evidence required, while each issue does have specific documents listed these are provided as guidance rather than a definite list.
The assessor and project team will find that many assessment issues require more than one piece or type of information to demonstrate compliance with one criterion, or alternatively, one piece of information may be sufficient to demonstrate compliance with multiple criteria.
Written commitments at the interim stage of assessment – Design stage
At the interim design stage of assessment it is permissible to use letters or emails to demonstrate intent to comply with BREEAM criteria (provided they meet the requirements for the communication records below). Such evidence must also make clear the actions and evidence (or an understanding thereof) that will be undertaken and provided to ensure the project's ongoing compliance, particularly at the final stage of assessment, i.e. post-construction. This is to ensure that the party who makes the commitment is clearly aware of the actions and evidence that needs to be supplied to demonstrate compliance with BREEAM at the final stage of assessment. For example, in many circumstances it would not be acceptable for the design team to copy and paste the BREEAM criteria into a formal commitment. The commitment should specifically detail how criteria are to be achieved in the context of the assessment, and often copying and pasting the BREEAM criteria will not provide this level of detail.
While letters of commitment can play a role in demonstrating compliance, they are not a replacement for more formal and established types of project information. The assessor must not award credits where they have a reason to doubt the validity or intent of written commitments, or where it is not unreasonable to expect formal design or specification information to be available to confirm compliance.
Written commitments at the final stage of assessment – Post-construction
As stated in the Scope section, there are two types of assessment that can be carried out at the post-construction stage, a post-construction review of a design stage assessment, or a post-construction assessment (where no design stage assessment has been carried out). The 'Final post-construction stage' column of the evidence table in each issue assumes that a design stage assessment has been completed. Where a design stage assessment has not been completed, the assessor will need to review both the 'Interim design stage' and 'Final post-construction stage' evidence listed in the evidence table and ensure sufficient evidence is submitted with the assessment to demonstrate compliance with the criteria.
Evidence supplied at the post-construction stage must be reflective of the completed building and must therefore demonstrate what has actually been implemented. For example, if sub-meters have been specified at the design stage, evidence at the post-construction stage would need to demonstrate that these have actually been installed. Appropriate evidence may be a site inspection report with supporting photographs or as-built drawings showing the location of the sub-meters.
Letters of commitment cannot be used to demonstrate compliance at the final, post-construction stage of assessment. The only exception to this is where the criteria require an action to take place post-construction, i.e. after handover and possibly during the building operation. An example could be a written commitment from the building owner or occupier making a commitment to conduct post-occupancy evaluation. As with written commitments at the design stage, the BREEAM Assessor must not award BREEAM credits where they have a reason to doubt the validity or intent of written commitments or where it is not unreasonable to expect formal documentation, e.g. a schedule of services or professional services contract.
Evidence principles that BREEAM Assessors and the BRE Global Ltd Quality Assurance work to
As described above, where specific evidence is stated in the 'Evidence' table within each assessment issue, this must be sourced and verified by the BREEAM Assessor.
In determining the appropriateness of evidence for each issue, the principles outlined in Table 8 must be considered by BREEAM Assessors. Where the evidence meets the principles outlined in Table 8 and, where appropriate, the guidance provided in the 'Robustness of evidence' section, such evidence is admissible for the purpose of the assessment and the BRE Global Quality Assurance checks.
These principles are not listed in a hierarchical order and are all equally important when considering which evidence type to submit to demonstrate compliance for each issue or criterion.
|Summary||Principle||Objective||A question to ask to check|
|1||Evidence provided for all criteria for all credits sought||Evidence must demonstrate that ALL relevant* criteria and sub-criteria for each credit sought are achieved and where relevant, is provided to support compliance notes, definitions etc.||Completeness||Are all criteria and sub-criteria covered? Have all relevant compliance notes and definitions been addressed?|
|2||Unambiguous assessment||The assessment must demonstrate unambiguous compliance and the evidence must support this assessment. Evidence (and supporting notes) must clearly demonstrate to a third party reviewer that the criteria have been met.||Independent review compatibility||If a third party (e.g. BRE Global Ltd) reviewed my report with the submitted evidence, would they be able to confirm compliance and award the same credits I have?|
(See Robustness of Evidence for further details on both of these principles).
|Proof that evidence is robust and from a reliable source.||Is this the most robust form of evidence available to demonstrate compliance with this criterion? Does the evidence contain all the relevant basic information? Is it fully auditable?|
|4||Use existing evidence||Use existing project information to demonstrate compliance. In most cases evidence should not need to be 'created' for BREEAM compliance purposes.||Minimises evidence and reduces time and cost of compliance.||Does robust evidence meeting the above principles already exist that I can use? If I need to ask for more evidence, is the project seeking credits where compliance is not adequately demonstrated?|
|* Where the assessor or design team deem specific criteria 'not relevant' to the assessment, a full justification should be collated and then submitted as a technical query for review by BRE Global Ltd.|
Robustness of Evidence
Robust evidence provides confirmation that the assessment has been carried out correctly and the building complies with the criteria for the BREEAM credits sought. The assessor should consider the following when gathering project information and evaluating whether the evidence provided is as 'robust' as possible:
- Is there more than one piece of evidence that could be used to demonstrate compliance?
- Is the chosen evidence the most robust and appropriate piece of evidence to demonstrate that a particular criterion has been achieved?
Any evidence submitted for a BREEAM assessment must be robust in terms of its source and its traceability. Below is a list of the minimum information the assessor must expect to see when certain types of evidence are submitted.
Communication records: Any communication records used as evidence must provide clear confirmation of the site name, author's identity and role, the date and recipient's identity.
Formal letters of correspondence: Must be on company or organisation headed note-paper with a signature (electronic signatures are acceptable). Ideally letters should be a secured document. (Please see sections relating to written commitment for further information.)
Meeting minutes: Must include date, location and attendee information (names, organisations and roles), along with a record of the meeting and agreed actions.
Drawings: All drawings must have the building or site name, phase (if applicable), title of drawing, date, revision number and a scale.
Specification: A specification must be clear that it relates to the project under assessment, and it must have a date and revision number. Where sections of a specification are provided, the assessor should reference the extract and as a minimum submit the front page of the specification detailing the project name, revision number and date.
Site inspection report: A site inspection report must include the building or site name, date, author and summary text to detail what was witnessed, confirming compliance. Photographic evidence can be used to support the text in the report.
For other types of evidence not listed, the assessor should use the above as a guide for the sort of evidence that is suitable. As a minimum, in most cases, the evidence used to assess compliance should always contain key information such as the project name, the author, date, revision numbers etc.
BREEAM International New Construction 2016
Reference: SD233 – Issue: 2.0
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