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BREEAM assessment issues and credits

BREEAM New Construction consists of forty nine individual assessment issues spanning the nine environmental categories, plus a tenth category called ‘innovation’ (described below). Each issue addresses a specific building related environmental impact or issue and has a number of ‘credits’ assigned to it. ‘BREEAM credits’ are awarded where a building demonstrates that it meets the best practice performance levels defined for that issue i.e. it has mitigated an impact or, in the case of the health and wellbeing section, addressed a specific building occupant-related issue e.g. good thermal comfort, daylight or acoustics.

The number of ‘credits’ available for an individual assessment issue will vary and generally the higher the number there are for a given issue, the more important that issue is in terms of mitigating its impact. In most cases, where there are multiple ‘credits’ available, the number awarded is based on a sliding scale or benchmark, where progressively higher standards of building performance are rewarded with a higher number of ‘credits’.

It is worth noting that, in addition to the environmental section and overall score and BREEAM rating, verified performance against individual assessment issues also provides users with a credible set of key building performance indicators for a range of embodied, operational and construction phase building impacts. In this respect, in addition to using BREEAM to define overall targets, it is possible to use the method to define performance levels in support of specific organisational policy objectives for individual environmental issues. Care should be taken when setting design targets using individual issues and credit levels in this way as it can limit design flexibility and have an impact on project costs.

Awarding ‘credits’ for innovation

It is one of the aims of BREEAM to support innovation within the construction industry and its supply chain. BREEAM does this by making additional ‘credits’ available for the recognition of sustainability related benefits or performance levels which are currently not recognised by standard BREEAM assessment issues and criteria. By doing this BREEAM is rewarding buildings that go beyond best practice in terms of a particular aspect of sustainability i.e. where the building or its procurement has demonstrated innovation.

Awarding ‘credits’ for innovation enables clients and design teams to boost their building’s BREEAM performance and, in addition, helps to support the market for new innovative technologies, and design or construction practices.

There are two ways in which BREEAM awards ‘innovation credits’ to recognise innovation in building design and procurement. The first is by meeting exemplary performance criteria defined within an existing BREEAM issue i.e. going beyond the standard BREEAM assessment criteria and therefore best practice. Note, not all assessment issues have exemplary performance criteria. The second route is where an application is made to BRE Global by the BREEAM Assessor in connection with a project registered for BREEAM assessment to have a particular building technology or feature, design or construction method or process recognised as ‘innovative’. If the application is successful and subsequently building compliance is verified, an ‘innovation credit’ can be awarded.

An additional 1% can be added to a building’s overall score for each ‘innovation credit’ achieved. The maximum number of ’innovation credits’ that can be awarded for any one building is 10; therefore the maximum available additional score for ‘innovation’ is 10%. Innovation credits can be awarded regardless of the building’s final BREEAM rating i.e. they are awardable at any BREEAM rating level.