How to reach the top of the BREEAM 2011 tree
As a BREEAM Assessor, I often have to answer the question how can project teams meet the BREEAM 2011 requirements?
The most important thing is to get a BREEAM Assessor like myself involved early on. A lot of credits are lost because an Assessor is involved at for example Stage D, when they should have been involved at Stage B or C. This is because the Assessor can alert the Project Team to ‘early wins’, some of which may not necessarily add to project cost. Many BREEAM issues need to be initiated at early stages such as Man01 (first credit) when stakeholder consultations are taking place.
And BREEAM issues at pre-construction advice stage should also be picked up by project team. For example, Hea06 (Security Credit) refers to when the security consultant needs to be involved at concept design stage (Stage C) so that security advice can be considered and implemented within the early design of the project.
Ene04(LZC) – a compliant feasibility study by Stage C will ensure that the most appropriate renewables, in terms of site demographics, payback and cost, are selected for the site.
Early-stage consideration of credits becomes increasingly important when higher ratings such as Excellent and Outstanding are being targeted. For example, not carrying out a compliant feasibility study for Ene04, when targeting Excellent and above would mean that the BREEAM rating sought would be jeopardised. This is because Ene04 Credit 1 is mandatory in these cases.
Without early involvement of the BREEAM Assessor, projects risk missing quick/easy wins and/or low cost credits and having to catch these up at the end of the project, with often costly solutions, such as having to install a high number of photo-voltaics or attenuators etc. and in some cases, potentially putting project ratings at risk.
As BREEAM assessment is quite a complex and labour-intensive process, one of the major challenges is trying to stay on top of the waves of evidence, and ensuring they meet BREEAM evidential requirements. So how can project teams track the progress of the project’s BREEAM requirements?
BREEAM ask for concise statements, outlining how we have met their requirements, and each of these need to be backed up with evidence (e.g. drawings, specifications, photos, receipts, specialist reports etc).
At BAM, we have started using a web-based portal called Tracker +, which makes the whole assessment process ‘transparent’. This allows the project team to see what stage each project is at, remotely upload evidence for the BREEAM Assessor to use and know what is required from whom, and by when.
This software allows the evidence gathering process to be transparent to all involved, and the assessment to be quicker and more efficient. Once all the statements and evidence is gathered, the BREEAM Assessor sends the completed document to BRE, who audit the report. There is an added bonus for direct online submission to the BRE auditors, who can in turn respond back via the same platform.
The challenges faced in achieving an Outstanding rating combine all of the above-mentioned elements, so streamlining the assessment process as much as is possible is a necessity. A project that achieves over 85% is given the status of BREEAM Outstanding, the highest level of BREEAM, such as our recently completed Co-op Headquarters in Manchester (pictured below).
Dr Hardip Mann is a Senior Sustainability Advisor at BAM.
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