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What is BREEAM?

Posted in Education on Apr 25, 2024.

What is BREEAM?

BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, it is a widely recognized measure of a building's environmental performance and sustainability. The BREEAM method is increasingly becoming a mandatory requirement by local planning authorities.

How are BREEAM assessment undertaken?

A BREEAM assessment evaluates a building's environmental performance across categories like energy efficiency, waste management, and innovation. Conducted by qualified assessors, it assigns credits based on set criteria, culminating in an overall rating from Unclassified to Outstanding. Their evaluation is guided by the latest regulations set forth by the BRE and the process offers valuable insights into a building's sustainability and its environmental impact on the local area. 

If you are looking to achieve the best possible BREEAM rating, it is advised that you use an experienced BREEAM assessor throughout the project as this will ensure that the BREEAM sustainability criteria is met.

During the assessment, the assessor conducts evaluations through a combination of methods such as:

  • On-site visits
  • Review of construction drawings and documents
  • Examination of materials specifications and engagement with project stakeholders

This multifaceted approach allows the assessor to gain a comprehensive understanding of the building's sustainability features and performance. They analyse how well the building aligns with specific sustainability criteria established by BREEAM, assessing aspects like energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, ecological impact, and overall environmental sustainability. 

How are assessments scored?

When BREEAM assessor evaluates a building or project they will look at 10 different sustainability categories mentioned above. Each of these categories has a designated amount credits allocated to it; these are then combined to give an overall score. With this score the assessor will give a benchmark percentage.

The six classifications being:

Outstanding (minimum 85%)
Excellent (minimum 70%)
Very Good (minimum 55%)
Good (minimum 45%)
Pass (minimum 30%)
Unclassified (less than 30%)

As you can see the highest score is outstanding. Less than 1% of buildings will achieve this with the majority receiving scores between pass and very good. If a building does not meet the 30% pass mark it will be classed as unclassified and not given a BREEAM rating.

What are the categories?

BREEAM’s assessment encompasses 10 separate categories that cover a range of areas. For a building to achieve the highest possible score it must achieve credits within all of the below categories:

Energy: How energy efficient is your building? How much energy usage and wastage is there?

Management: How well is a building or project managed is there a focus on sustainability management policies?

Water: How much water does the construction project require and how much water does the building require to operate?

Waste: How much waste is produced by a construction project and where does the waste end up?

Pollution: How much pollution does the building create and how can pollution be limited or removed entirely?

Health and Wellbeing: What health and safety measures are in place and is there adequate ventilation and lighting?

Materials: Which materials are used to construct a building are they sustainable and where have they come from?

Transport: How accessible is a building and is it easily connected to existing public transport?

Land usage and Ecology: Is it a brownfield or a greenfield site? How is the surrounding environment and wildlife impacted?

Innovation: How innovative is the design? How innovative are the building’s sustainability policies?

The assessment does consider that some factors are more important than others meaning that categories which carry more weight will be more effective in helping achieve a higher score. The highest categories are:

Energy Management Health and Wellbeing.

To find out more about the different categories follow the link below:

What are BREEAM categories?

When are assessments carried out?

BREEAM assessments can be conducted at any stage of a project's development. While they are commonly performed during the initial design phase to assess the sustainability of proposed plans and identify potential improvements, it's important to note the flexibility of the BREEAM process. Assessments can also be carried out after construction has been completed, offering valuable insights into the sustainability of the finished building or project. This adaptability ensures that BREEAM assessments can effectively evaluate sustainability across various stages of a project's lifecycle.


In summary, BREEAM assessments are vital for evaluating and enhancing the sustainability of buildings and communities. By engaging qualified assessors and striving for high ratings, stakeholders demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and contribute to the creation of healthier, more sustainable environments.

For more information on what QuinnRoss Energy can do to help with your BREEAM assessment please contact one of our team now.