Getting to grips with BREEAM

Hayley Marks
All you need to know for starting a career in sustainability at Faithful+Gould

I joined Faithful + Gould in November 2017 as an Assistant Consultant in the Strategic Asset Management (SAM) Team. As a Geography graduate, a career in sustainability was where I wanted to be. Faithful+Gould offered a fantastic opportunity for me to kickstart my career in the built environment.

Over the past few months, much of my work has focused on BREEAM environmental assessments. This article will focus on my experience of getting to grips with the BREEAM process and the value it brings to projects.

What is BREEAM?

BREEAM stands for the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method. It is the leading environmental assessment method for buildings. The environmental assessment is a holistic rating, covering 9 main topics:

  • Management
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Waste
  • Land Use and Ecology
  • Pollution
  • Additional credits are available for innovation

In a world where sustainability, wellbeing and energy-efficient technologies are increasingly being pushed to the forefront of our minds, BREEAM has an even more crucial role to play in the construction industry. It is a method which ensures that the built environment is interacting with the surrounding environment in sustainable, energy-efficient ways. The ways in which people interact with and experience a building is also increasingly becoming a focus for BREEAM.

A new edition of the BREEAM UK New Construction Scheme is released every 3-4 years. The most recent New Construction edition was released in March 2018. This makes BREEAM a dynamic scheme, which is constantly developing and able to keep up-to-date with the latest issues, technologies and innovations.

Viewing BREEAM Differently

Since working with BREEAM, it has become apparent that people’s perceptions on what it is and what value it can bring to a project varies greatly. BREEAM is so much more than a ‘tick-box exercise’, or a requirement for planning applications.

Having gained some in-depth experience working with the tool, I have been able to see that it has the potential to increase the long-term value of a building. When used efficiently, interacted with and implemented to its best advantages, BREEAM leads the way in innovative and sustainable building design. The key to utilising the benefits of BREEAM is to keep sustainability and energy-efficient features at the forefront of the teams’ and clients’ minds right from the very beginning, and continuously throughout the process. By realising this, the very best practices in sustainable design performance can be set. BREEAM can provide reduced operational costs, increased property value and reduced environmental impact.

The challenges associated with the process revolve primarily around communication and collating the required evidence from the relevant team members. Working closely with the team, by attending team meetings and being as involved in the process, as early on as possible, helps to overcome these issues. Using our BREEAM AP service that we offer also helps to create a more streamlined BREEAM process with bespoke sustainability advice throughout a project.

BREEAM is leading the way in sustainable design of the built environment and should be a valued assessment method in the construction industry. The value of BREEAM should be realised on all projects!

Picture of the Met Office Collaboration Space in Exeter – It got awarded a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

The SAM team works across a diverse range of services including: Sustainability, Facilities Management, Asset Management and Life-Cycle. I have enjoyed the diversity of experience and dynamic work. Within my first few months at Faithful+Gould, I have had the opportunity to work on a range of challenging projects within a variety of sectors including education, commercial and defence.

SAM is a growth area for Faithful+Gould and we are developing the business with an expanding team. If you are interested in joining the SAM team, please get in touch with us for a chat!