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Martin Townsend

Martin Townsend
Sustainability Director
BRE Global

All the Directors as well as every BREEAM employee, both past and present are passionate about what we do, it’s not just the BREEAM standards that are the result of extensive research and learning from worldwide best practise, but also our collaborative work with the construction industry, which helps us drive improvements to create amazing buildings and sustainable market transformation that we all seek.

The fact that many projects and some competitive assessment methodologies are not backed up with any credible scientific data or third-party certification can make selecting the alternatives for use in a development project something of a lottery. Achieving a more sustainable built environment depends on specifiers being able to trust the claims made for building products, systems and services.

Providing impartial, authoritative information that the industry can trust is at the heart of the work that BRE and in particular what BREEAM does. Achieving certification, through designing, constructing or managing operational aspects as the typical requirements for meeting BREEAM requires careful planning, design, specification and detailing, and a good working relationship between the client and project team. These are also the very qualities that can produce better buildings and better conditions for building users.  The improved efficiencies and quality outcomes associated with sustainability are also helping to make developments more commercially successful. There is growing evidence, for example, that certified and rated buildings provide increased rates of return for investors, and increased rental rates and sales premiums for developers and owners. Looking ahead, by its very nature sustainability is all encompassing – not limited to any particular sets of products, buildings or issues. Our assessment and certification systems must be widened accordingly if the momentum for greater sustainability in the built environment is to be maintained. 

BREEAM has already been expanded from a single certification scheme and technical standard able to assess single buildings, to multiple standards that can be used on almost any type of building in any location around the globe.  The range of issues addressed by BREEAM has also grown, but many more environmental, social and economic aspects need to be considered. The challenge is to broaden BREEAM without increasing its complexity – expansion must go hand-in hand with efforts to make assessments more accessible and transparent. The support and feedback from the industry that we have enjoyed to date will be vital in this process. The eventual goal is to make sustainability mainstream and routine – involving everybody. We will need to link tools such as BREEAM to BIM and a wide range of other databases to allow sustainability information to be quickly and easily accessed. 

We are living in exciting times, and I believe the next 25 years will see even more significant change than the past, with rating tools enabling continuous improvements and vastly improved mitigation measures incorporated that will ensure we can make better and quicker decisions regarding the key components of our communities, infrastructure and buildings across the entire built environment.

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