BREEAM is an internationally recognised measure and mark of a building's sustainable qualities1. Since its launch in 1990, BREEAM has certified over a quarter of a million buildings and is now active in more than 70 countries around the world. Wherever they are, these buildings are immediately identifiable as having been planned, designed, constructed and operated in accordance with best practice sustainability principles.
BREEAM works to raise awareness among owners, occupants, designers and operators of the benefits of taking a life cycle approach to sustainability. It also helps them to successfully and cost-effectively adopt solutions, and facilitates market recognition of their achievements.
Using independent, licensed assessors, BREEAM examines scientifically based criteria covering a range of issues in sections that evaluate energy and water use, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, waste, land use, ecology and management processes. Buildings are rated and certified on a scale of 'Pass', 'Good', 'Very Good', 'Excellent' and 'Outstanding'. Refer to the scoring and rating section to see how a BREEAM rating is calculated.
Benefits of using BREEAM
BREEAM challenges the perception still held by many that good quality, sustainable buildings are significantly more costly to design and build than those that simply adhere to mandatory (regulatory) requirements.
A growing body of research evidence2 demonstrates that sustainable options often add little or no capital cost to a development project. Where they do incur additional costs, these can frequently be paid back through lower running expenses, and ultimately lead to savings over the life of the building.
The greater efficiency and quality associated with sustainability are also helping to make such building more commercially successful. There is growing evidence3, for example, that BREEAM-rated buildings provide increased rates of return for investors, and increased rental rates and sales premiums for developers and owners. Furthermore, BREEAM rated buildings can help investors in times of financial insecurity by providing properties with low risk, that provide safer long term investments.
Research studies have also highlighted the enhanced value and quality of sustainable buildings4. Achieving the standards required by BREEAM requires careful planning, design, specification and detailing, and a good working relationship between the client and project team. Using BREEAM as a tool throughout the project can also facilitate innovation, resulting in potential cost savings and adding value by producing better buildings and better conditions for building users.
Who is behind BREEAM?
BREEAM is managed and continually developed by BRE Global and supported in certain countries by a number of National Scheme Operators (NSOs)5. NSOs are independent organisations who develop and own country-specific 'local' schemes that are affiliated to BREEAM. See Appendix A – National Scheme Operators.
The founder and owner of the BREEAM brand, BRE Global, is the NSO for the UK. BRE Global also develops and manages the pan-country scheme, BREEAM International. BRE Global is an independent, third party approvals and certification organisation that is part of the BRE Group. The BRE Group is owned by the BRE Trust, a UK registered research and education charity that works to advance knowledge, innovation and communication in the built environment. The Trust uses all profits made by the Group to fund new research and education programmes.
The operation of BREEAM is overseen by an independent Governing Body and a Standing Panel for Peer & Market Review. The Governing Body represents stakeholders to ensure that BRE Global acts correctly and impartially, and treats customers fairly. The Standing Panel provides access to a range of experts that ensure scientific, technical and market robustness, and that BREEAM's development is open to external and independent scrutiny.
BRE Global's BREEAM-related activities are also certified to ISO 9001 to assist in continually improving internal quality management.
The BREEAM family
BREEAM has expanded from a single scheme focusing on individual, UK buildings at the design stage, to a family of international schemes that encompass the whole life cycle of buildings from master-planning of communities to new constructions, through to in-use and refurbishment of existing buildings.
All BREEAM schemes have affiliation to the 'BRE Global Code for a Sustainable Built Environment' in common. The Code is a set of strategic principles and requirements that define an integrated approach to designing, managing, evaluating and certifying the environmental, social and economic impacts of the built environment. It ensures that while BREEAM remains a highly flexible approach, all of the individual schemes share a robust scientific and performance basis.
The BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme can be used to assess the environmental life cycle impacts of existing non-domestic buildings at the refurbishment and fit-out stages. The definition of 'refurbishment' encompasses a wide range of works to improve the performance, function and overall condition of an existing building. 'Fit-out' also encompasses a wide range of works, however it is more associated with internal works to the building including the first fit-out of a newly constructed building or refitting an existing building.
The BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme provides a modular set of criteria that are applied depending upon the scope of works for a particular project type including:
- Part 1: Fabric and Structure
- Part 2: Core Services
- Part 3: Local Services
- Part 4: Interior Design.
The scheme is split into these assessment parts to allow the scheme to reflect the aspects of a building that are tenant or landlord responsibilities, as well as the varied life cycle stages that each component or element is upgraded. For example, interior finishes are typically replaced on a 5-10 year cycle compared to the fabric and structure of a building that may be upgraded after 60+ years. For commercial buildings, parts 1 and 2 typically reflect the aspects of a building that are landlord responsibilities, with parts 3 and 4 typically being aspects of the building that are tenant responsibilities although this will vary between specific projects.
Type of buildings that can be assessed using the BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme
The BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme is applicable to non-domestic buildings undergoing refurbishment and fit-out.
The non-domestic building types which can be assessed and rated using this scheme version are outlined in Table 2. Additional guidance for some of the building types listed is also provided in the appendices (refer to the endnotes).
Applicable assessment parts
Table 3 below indicates the typical BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme assessment parts that are applicable depending upon the type of refurbishment or fit-out project being undertaken. This table can be used to indicate which assessment parts are potentially applicable to the project; however ultimately it is down to the assessor and client to work together to identify which parts of the method they wish to gain certification against. Further guidance on this is provided later in the Scope section to help identify which assessment part may be appropriate for different project types.
The BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme has been developed to allow a flexible approach to assessments to fit the needs of a project. This approach allows the client or developer or assessor to select the parts of the assessment that are relevant to the scope of work being carried out. For example, where conducting work to interior finishes only, a Part 4 assessment would be appropriate.
The following assessment scope provides details of when it may be appropriate to conduct an assessment against each part, depending on the nature of the refurbishment or fit-out works that are being carried out.
It should be noted that, currently, a client can choose which parts they wish to gain certification against and this choice is not limited by the scope of a project. This is to provide flexibility recognising that a project may be doing work that is within the scope of an assessment part (e.g. upgrading part of the core services), but due to economic, technical or other factors may not be at a level that is compliant with BREEAM. In these situations, clients can choose to omit certain assessment parts, however the certificate will clearly highlight the parts that a project has been certificated against and clients and others must make the scope of the assessment clear in any published material or claims made which reference BREEAM, e.g. a BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 'Excellent' rating against Part 4.
Part 1: Fabric and Structure
A Part 1 assessment may be appropriate where a refurbishment project includes one or more of the following alterations to the building fabric and where the area to be renovated is greater than 50% of the surface of the individual element or 25% of the total building envelope:
- Building façade: where the external façade of the buildings is being upgraded or refurbished such as new cladding, rendering, façade system, internal dry lining etc.
- Roof: where a new roof is being installed or where significant changes are being made to the roof structure or the replacement or refurbishment of roof coverings.
- Windows: where changes are being made to the windows such as replacement, upgrade or refurbishment of existing windows with new glazing or the specification of secondary glazing.
Note: A minor change to the building fabric (e.g. local upgrading of an external wall) below the above thresholds would not require a Part 1 assessment to be included, although it may be carried out in order to assess the overall performance of the building fabric.
Part 2: Core Services
A Part 2 assessment may be appropriate where at least two of the following are being installed or upgraded to a level that requires compliance with national regulations:
- Central air handling unit
- Heating boiler
- More than 50% of heat distribution
- Chiller plant
- More than 50% of chiller distribution
- Water services (sanitary fittings in core)
- Building management system
- Community heating system (e.g. CCHP)
- Low and zero carbon technologies.
Note: Where works comprise of 'like for like' component replacements, e.g. a fan motor of an air handling unit a Part 2 assessment may not be appropriate although it may still be carried out in order to assess the performance of the core services.
Definition of core services
Core services are defined as services that supply multiple areas or tenants and will generally be centralised plant.
The services will be deemed core where the services supply multiple tenancy areas and are not focused on the needs of the individual tenants. In such instances these services will normally be owned, operated and maintained by the landlord or their agent. In single tenancy occupancy buildings, the systems services will be considered as core where they supply the whole of the building. The services will normally be owned, operated and maintained by the building owner or their agent.
Part 3: Local Services
A Part 3 assessment may be appropriate where at least two of the following fixed local building services are being installed or upgraded, e.g. a replacement or new installation of local heating and cooling units.
- Replacement of more than 50% of light fittings, system and controls
- Upgrade of zone controls
- Local ventilation
- Local heating units (including sources not connected to core services)
- Local cooling units (including sources not connected to core services)
- Point of use water heaters.
Note: If there is a requirement to replace a component of a local service as part of the refurbishment or fit-out and that component is a direct replacement then a Part 3 assessment may not be appropriate, though may still be carried out in order to assess the performance of local services. Examples of component replacements include new lamps within existing fittings, circulation pumps or individual heat emitters and valves.
Definition of local services
Local services are defined as services that supply a specific area and may connect into the distribution systems from the core services within the tenanted area.
Part 4: Interior Design
A Part 4 assessment may be appropriate where the refurbishment or fit-out works involve changes to the layout or redecoration of the refurbishment or fit-out area. including:
- Remodelling or changes to interior spaces including two or more of the following:
- Wall coverings (alterations to at least 50% by area)
- Floor coverings (alterations to at least 50% by area)
- Ceiling covering or systems (alterations to at least 50% by area)
- Partitions (alterations to at least 50% by area)
- Raised floor system (alterations to at least 50% by area)
- Furniture and fittings, e.g. office furniture, retail display furniture and fittings etc. (alterations to at least 50% by area)
- AND at least one of the following:
- Sanitary fittings, e.g. tea or coffee points, kitchenette and washrooms (alterations to at least 50% of fittings)
- Equipment, e.g. Office equipment, display lighting, display chillers or freezers (alterations to at least 50% of equipment)
- Local electrical installations, e.g. sub-metering.
Alignment with typical life cycle replacement of building components
To recognise the life cycle replacement of different building components, the scope of BREEAM International Refurbishment and Fit-out assessment parts group key aspects together that largely sit within a similar life cycle, which are often replaced or upgraded at different stages of a building's life including:
- Fabric and Structure: typical 60+ year life cycle
- Core Services: typically 20+ year life cycle
- Local Services: typically 10+ Year life cycle
- Interior Design: typically 5-10 year life cycle
Although the specific timing varies by building type (e.g. life cycles are often shorter in the retail sector and may be longer for other building types, e.g. schools), this is fairly typical.
Mixed use sites or building types
Typically, sites which consist of a number of separate buildings of differing functional types, e.g. office, retail or , will require an assessment and therefore BREEAM rating and certificate for each individual building.
A single building with a dominant use, but containing a number of different functional areas can have a single BREEAM assessment, rating and certificate. Examples of such buildings include:
- An office or industrial unit with some category 1 laboratories, workshop space, restaurant or canteen or staff gym
- A retail development with restaurants or cinema
- A higher education learning resource centre with a café, bookshop or offices
- A transport hub with retail units.
A single building that has a number of dominant functions, i.e. mixed use, will require separate assessments, ratings and certificates for each dominant function, as the scheme or assessment criteria for such building users differs markedly. Examples of such buildings include:
- A building with one or more floors of offices space and retail units
- A building with one or more floors of retail and residential units
- A building with a GP surgery and retail units.
The above examples are not an exhaustive list. They are used to highlight the types of scenarios where a single BREEAM assessment or multiple assessments is required. Further guidance on how to define mixed use developments for the purpose of a BREEAM assessment can be found in Guidance Note GN10 – Mixed use developments and similar buildings (or units). Clients are advised to consult a licensed assessor for advice on applying BREEAM to mixed use developments. The BREEAM Assessor will ensure that the buildings or development is registered correctly, seeking advice from BRE Global on classification where needed.
For the purpose of assessing historic buildings under the BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme, historic buildings are defined as building's or monuments that are formally listed and protected under international, national or local laws or schedules and therefore subject to local planning and building regulations, including buildings that are in a conservation zone. Such buildings will normally require consent from the local, national or international historic buildings authority (e.g. UNESCO, Architectes des Bâtiments de France (ABF), the National Heritage Board of Poland etc.).
Within this scheme document, there are a number of Compliance notes that should be referred to where undertaking an assessment of a historic building.
Newly constructed buildings
Newly constructed buildings cannot be assessed under the BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme and should be assessed under the BREEAM International New Construction scheme. The exception is the assessment of a fit-out being undertaken in an existing but newly constructed building.
Overall, a newly constructed building is defined as a building that has been constructed from scratch and in general does not incorporate any part of an existing building. Where a building is constructed on the site of a pre-existing building, it will be defined as a new build where it does not incorporate any part of the former building above ground level, with the exception of a retained cellar, basement and ground floor slab. There are however other situations where a building may be defined as a new build while incorporating existing building elements. This includes:
- Where there is no more than one façade (or two on a corner site) of a pre-existing building being retained as an explicit condition as part of Planning Permission, incorporated as part of the new shell
- Where there is more than one façade or party walls of a pre-existing buildings retained and a new shell is being constructed behind the retained façade
- A building is being extended to create additional floor area that is contained entirely within the extension with no internal access between the two buildings
- The structural elements of an existing building are stripped back to its frame, for example removal of the external walls, roof and all services, leaving the structural frame and floor and ceiling slab.
Where a building is defined as a newly constructed building then it should be assessed using the BREEAM International New Construction scheme.
Part-new-build, part-refurbishment projects
BREEAM can be used to assess new build extensions to existing buildings. The choice of scheme is dependent on the scope of new build and refurbishment works. There are several options for assessment and certification depending upon the scale of the new build extension as follows:
- The new build extension can be included as part of a BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out assessment under the following circumstances:
- Where the original building area is less than 500m² and new extension is less than 40% of the original building area
- Where the original building area is greater than 500m² but less than 2500m² and the new extension is less than 30% of the original building area
- Where the original building is greater than 2500m² and the new extension is no greater than 20% of the original building area
- Where the new extension is above these thresholds, there are two options as described below:
Option 1: Separate BREEAM International New Construction and BREEAM International Refurbishment and Fit-out assessments
Under option 1, two separate BREEAM assessments would be conducted with a BREEAM International New Construction assessment undertaken on the new extension and a BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out assessment undertaken on the existing building refurbishment or fit-out. Two separate certificates and ratings can be obtained to indicate the performance of both the new extension and existing building refurbishment or fit-out.
Option 2: BREEAM International Bespoke combined New Construction and Refurbishment and Fit-out assessment
Under option 2, one single assessment is conducted and certified under BREEAM International Bespoke. Under this option the new extension is assessed against the BREEAM International New Construction criteria and the refurbishment or fit-out aspects are assessed against the BREEAM International Refurbishment and Fit-out criteria. The category score for the refurbished area and extension are area weighted in order to provide a combined New Construction and Refurbishment rating and single BREEAM International Bespoke certificate issued for the building.
In determining the appropriate option for a part new build part-refurbishment project, the BREEAM Assessor should review the scope of the proposed works and consider in particular the scope of the refurbished elements, i.e. is it major refurbishment, will there be a significant change of use and will the building's thermal and structural elements remain 'as existing'. Using this information the assessor should advise the client on the most suitable option in terms of which BREEAM version or scheme is most appropriate for maximising the building's environmental performance. Where the assessor is unsure of the classification for a mixed refurbishment and extension, details of the project with a copy of the plans highlighting the existing and proposed building should be sent to BRE Global for a scheme classification.
Comparability between assessments
BREEAM assessment schemes provide a highly visible and well recognised mark of best practice in the property industry that are designed to allow building owners and occupiers to compare how they perform against their peers. In order to provide this 'level playing field', there needs to be consistency in what each project is being assessed against.
BREEAM New Construction schemes are UKAS accredited certification schemes and the BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme follows the same principles, in order to allow the scheme to gain accreditation in the future. It is therefore important to ensure that the scope of the assessment and what is being certificated is highly visible and auditable.
Alignment with BREEAM International New Construction shell only and shell and core assessments
The BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme aligns closely with the BREEAM International New Construction scheme allowing shell only and shell and core speculative projects to gain BREEAM New Construction fully fitted status by assessing the first fit-out of a building part-building under the BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme.
Speculative shell only and shell and core projects can achieve fully fitted status by following one of the following options (as applicable):
- Shell only new construction projects can gain fully fitted status where the fit-out of the building is assessed against parts 2, 3 and 4 of the BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015
- Shell and core new construction projects can gain fully fitted status where the fit-out of the building is assessed against parts 3 and 4 of the BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015
Where seeking a fully fitted certificate for a shell only or shell and core project assessed against the BREEAM International New Construction scheme, the appropriate BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out assessment parts should be assessed as above. The resulting score is then combined with the score achieved at the New Construction shell only or shell and core stage in order to generate the BREEAM International New Construction fully fitted rating and certificate.
Full details of the methodology and process for obtaining fully fitted status using the BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme is detailed in Guidance Note (TBC) found in the resources section of the BREEAM website.
Building life cycle stages covered by the BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme
This BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015 scheme can be used to assess and rate the environmental impacts arising from refurbishment and fit-out projects, and the building its on going operation, at the following life cycle stages:
- Refurbishment Design Stage (DS) - leading to an Interim BREEAM certified rating
- Post Construction Stage (PCS) – leading to a Final BREEAM certified rating.
The DS assessment and Interim certified BREEAM rating confirms the building's performance at the design stage of the life cycle. Assessment and certification will ideally occur prior to the beginning of operations on site. The certified BREEAM rating at this stage is labelled as 'Interim' because it does not represent the building's final BREEAM performance.
To complete an assessment at this stage, the design must be advanced to a point where the relevant design information is available to enable the BREEAM Assessor to evaluate and verify the building's performance against the criteria defined in this scheme document. The interim DS assessment will therefore be completed and certified at the scheme design or detailed design stages.
Post Construction Stage
The PCS assessment and BREEAM rating confirms the final post refurbishment or fit-out performance of the building at the refurbishment or fit-out final stage of the life cycle. A final PCS assessment is completed and certified after practical completion of the refurbishment or fit-out works.
There are two approaches to assessment at the post construction stage:
- A post construction review of an interim design stage assessment
- A full post construction assessment.
A post construction review serves to confirm that the building's as-built performance and rating is in accordance with that certified at the interim design stage. Where an interim DS assessment has not been carried out, i.e. certified, and a BREEAM assessment and rating is required, a full post construction stage assessment will need to be conducted.
Further information about BREEAM's evidential requirements for each of the above assessment stages can be found in 4.0 The BREEAM evidential requirements.
Calculating a building's BREEAM rating
A BREEAM Assessor must determine the BREEAM rating using the appropriate assessment tools and calculators. An indication of performance against the BREEAM scheme can also be determined using a BREEAM Pre-Assessment Estimator. The Pre-Assessment Estimator is available from the BREEAM website: www.breeam.com. Any pre-assessment estimate of the rating a project may achieve should be informed by a licensed BREEAM Assessor who understands the full details of the process where this is used to inform business, funding or contractual decisions.
The process of determining a BREEAM rating is outlined below and an example calculation included in Table 7.
- Firstly the BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme parts assessed need to be selected according to the project type and scope of works. The appropriate BREEAM assessment tool or calculator then adjusts the scoring and weightings to reflect the categories and individual credits assessed.
- The BREEAM Assessor will then determine for each of BREEAM's nine environmental sections (as applicable) the number of 'credits' awarded. This must be determined by the BREEAM Assessor in accordance with the criteria of each assessment issue (as detailed in the technical sections of this document).
- The percentage of 'credits' achieved is then calculated for each section.
- The percentage of 'credits' achieved in each section is then multiplied by the corresponding section weighting. This gives the overall environmental section score.
- The section scores are then added together to give the overall BREEAM score.
- The overall score is then compared to the BREEAM rating benchmark levels and, provided all minimum standards have been met, the relevant BREEAM rating is achieved.
- An additional 1% can be added to the final BREEAM score for each 'innovation credit' achieved (up to a maximum of 10% and with the total BREEAM score capped at 100%).
BREEAM International Non-Domestic Refurbishment 2015
Reference: SD225 – Issue: 1.4
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