What is BREEAM?
BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) is the principal environmental assessment method for buildings internationally. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the accepted measure of the environmental performance of a built development.
What are the benefits of BREEAM?
BREEAM addresses wide-ranging environmental and sustainability issues using a rigorous and transparent accreditation process and allows the environmental credentials of buildings to be assessed according to a standard methodology. BREEAM certification provides the following benefits:
· Market recognition for low environmental impact buildings
· Reduction of running costs, improvement of working and living environments
· A standard that demonstrates progress towards corporate and organisational environmental objectives
· A benchmark that is higher than regulation
· Assurance that best environmental practice is incorporated into a building
· Inspiration to find innovative solutions that minimise the environmental impact
Why is land use and ecology important?
BREEAM rates the environmental performance of buildings based on their ability to attain credits within a number of different categories. The sum of credits obtained produces a single overall score on a scale of pass, good, very good, excellent and outstanding.
The Land Use and Ecology category accounts for 10% of the available credits within a BREEAM Assessment. Thus credits gained in this category can potentially dictate the final rating achieved. With project funding increasingly dependent on a project's ability to attain a set BREEAM rating, investment in a timely ecological survey and guidance can be a decisive factor in obtaining the credits required. In order to maximise the potential for obtaining ecological credits, a suitably qualified ecologist should be consulted at an early stage in the design process to advise on ecological constraints. Minor changes to the proposal at an early stage can allow integrated, cost effective ecological mitigation to be incorporated into the design with benefits for both the development and local wildlife.
Within the Ecology and Land Use category, credits are optional. A recent study showed that in order to obtain the maximum award for the lowest cost-inputs, only a small selection of the available categories need to be assessed. It highlighted that if a “Very Good” or “Excellent” award was desired, issues related to Ecology and Land Use would need to be addressed (A Guide to EcoHomes, Jenny Wain, Sustainable Homes 2003). Therefore it is worth considering the following questions at an early stage in the project lifecycle:
· Is the site ‘brownfield’ or are you redeveloping a contaminated site?
· Can ecological enhancements be made?
· Can existing ecological features be protected?