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The BREEAM evidential requirements

This section provides guidance to assessors and project teams on the types of evidence required to demonstrate compliance with BREEAM issues.

Why does BREEAM require evidence?

BREEAM is a third party assessment and certification scheme operated in accordance with international standards. Operating to international standards ensures that certification schemes such as BREEAM are run in a consistent and reliable manner. The BREEAM assessor's assessment report and the BRE Global Quality Assurance process are the fundamental tenets of BREEAM, ensuring consistency of, and confidence in, the BREEAM rating awarded by the assessor.

To maintain this consistency and credibility, all certification decisions must be based on verified and credible project information that is traceable, i.e. evidence based. This is not only important for ensuring compliance with the international standards to which BREEAM operates, but also in terms of managing risk to clients and BREEAM assessors in the event that a certification outcome is challenged.

The assessment report and the BREEAM assessor role

It is the BREEAM assessor who determines the BREEAM rating and the assessment report is the formal record of an assessor’s audit against the criteria defined in the Technical Manual for a BREEAM scheme. The BREEAM certificate issued by BRE Global provides assurance that the service provided by the assessor (that is, the process of producing the assessment report) has been conducted in accordance with the requirements of the scheme. The purpose of the certificate is therefore to give confidence to the client in the assessor’s performance and processes in determining a BREEAM rating.

It is the role of the assessor to gather project information and use it to assess performance against the BREEAM scheme in a competent and impartial manner. To award a BREEAM credit, the assessor must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the evidence gathered demonstrates unambiguous compliance with all relevant criteria defined in the BREEAM scheme. All evidence must be appropriately referenced in the formal report produced by the assessor and made available on request from BRE Global Ltd for quality assurance checks.

Clear, ordered and well referenced evidence for each BREEAM issue and criterion facilitates efficient quality assurance and certification. BREEAM assessors can access further guidance on assessment report referencing in Assessor Guidance Note 01, and the 'Reporting process' webinar, both available from the BREEAM assessor Guidance section of the BREEAM assessor Extranet.

Evidence types

Evidence should not necessarily need to be prepared specifically for the purpose of the BREEAM assessment. In many instances, the assessor should be able to source readily available and prepared project information for the purpose of demonstrating compliance. For this reason, BREEAM aims to avoid being prescriptive on the type of evidence required, although some issues do require specific documents to be provided.

The assessor and project team will find that many assessment issues require more than one piece or type of information to demonstrate compliance with one criterion, or alternatively, one piece of information may be sufficient to demonstrate compliance with multiple criteria.

To assist project teams and the BREEAM assessor in their collation of building information at each stage of assessment, the different types of documentation that can be used as evidence of compliance are listed below.

These evidence types fall broadly into three categories:

  1. General evidence type
  2. Specific evidence type
  3. Other evidence type.

For some assessment issues, the assessor is likely to require a mixture of general and specific evidence types.

General evidence includes a broad list of defined building information commonly produced for a building project. One or a mix of these types of building information can be used to demonstrate compliance for one or more of the BREEAM issues and criteria, as deemed appropriate by the BREEAM assessor for the stage of assessment.

General BREEAM evidence types are listed in Table 9 , and are not specifically listed in the ’ Evidence‘ section found within each BREEAM issue. Note, not all general evidence types will be appropriate for all issues and it is the responsibility of the assessor to ensure that the evidence provided specifically demonstrates compliance and is fully referenced in the Assessment reporting tool.

Specific evidence is defined building information that must be provided to verify compliance with the relevant criteria for the BREEAM credit sought. In all cases it will be the only type of evidence that will be accepted by BRE Global Ltd for that particular issue/criteria. Where specific evidence is not provided and appropriately referenced in the assessment report, the Quality Assurance checks will identify non-conformity and certification will be delayed. An example of specific evidence would be a copy of the building regulations output document from the approved software for BREEAM issue Ene 01, and this is listed in the evidence table for this issue.

When required, specific evidence is defined and listed for each BREEAM issue in the ‘Evidence’ section for both final and interim stages of assessment. Although the ‘Evidence’ section lists the specific evidence required to demonstrate compliance with particular criteria, simply submitting this evidence may not be sufficient to demonstrate full compliance. Additional ‘general evidence types’ may also be required. For example Mat 01; to demonstrate compliance with criteria 1-5 at the design stage, a copy of the Mat 01 Calculator tool is listed in the ‘Evidence’ table. However, in addition to the Mat 01 tool, further evidence is required to demonstrate how the inputs for this tool have been determined, i.e. general evidence types such as building specifications or drawings etc., confirming the material specifications to be used. Note, not all BREEAM issues will have specific evidence requirements.

Other types of evidence can still be used to demonstrate compliance where an information type provided by a client/design team is not listed in Table 9 or the ‘Evidence’ section for each issue. To avoid non-conformities and delays in certification, undefined alternative types of evidence must demonstrate credible, robust and traceable assurance to the same level as, or better than, specified or general evidence types. If in doubt, please contact BREEAM prior to accepting such evidence.

Written commitments at the interim stage of assessment – Design stage

At the interim design stage of assessment it is permissible to use letters or emails to demonstrate intent to comply with BREEAM criteria (provided they meet the requirements for communication records). Such evidence must also make clear the actions and evidence (or an understanding thereof) that will be undertaken and provided to ensure the project's ongoing compliance, particularly at the final stage of assessment, i.e. post construction. This is to ensure that the party who makes the commitment is clearly aware of the actions and evidence that needs to be supplied to demonstrate compliance with BREEAM at the final stage of assessment. For example, in many circumstances it would not be acceptable for the design team to copy and paste the BREEAM criteria into a formal commitment. The commitment should specifically detail how criteria are to be achieved in the context of the assessment, and often copying and pasting the BREEAM criteria will not provide this detail.

While letters of commitment can play a role in demonstrating compliance, they are not a replacement for more formal and established types of project information. The assessor must not award credits where they have a reason to doubt the validity or intent of written commitments, or where it is not unreasonable to expect formal design or specification information to be available to confirm compliance.

Written commitments at the final stage of assessment – post construction

As stated in the Scope section, there are two types of assessment that can be carried out at the post construction stage, a post construction review of a design stage assessment, or a post construction assessment (where no design stage assessment has been carried out). The 'Final post construction stage' column of the evidence table in each issue assumes that a design stage assessment has been completed. Where a design stage assessment has not been completed, the assessor will need to review both the 'Interim design stage' and 'Final post construction stage' evidence listed in the evidence table and ensure sufficient evidence is submitted with the assessment to demonstrate compliance with the criteria.

Evidence supplied at the post construction stage must be reflective of the completed building and must therefore demonstrate what has actually been implemented. For example, if sub-meters have been specified at the design stage, evidence at the post construction stage would need to demonstrate that these have actually been installed. Appropriate evidence may be a site inspection report with supporting photographs or as built drawings showing the location of the sub-meters.

Letters of commitment cannot be used to demonstrate compliance at the final, post construction stage of assessment. The only exception to this is where the criteria require an action to take place post construction, i.e. after handover and possibly during the building operation. An example could be a written commitment from the building owner/occupier making a commitment to conduct post occupancy evaluation. As with written commitments at the design stage, the BREEAM assessor must not award BREEAM credits where they have a reason to doubt the validity or intent of written commitments or where it is not unreasonable to expect formal documentation, e.g. a schedule of services and/or professional services contract.

Evidence principles that BREEAM assessors and the BRE Global Ltd Quality Assurance work to

As described above, where specific evidence is stated in the ‘evidence’ table within each assessment issue, this must be sourced and verified by the BREEAM assessor.

Where no specific evidence has been listed for an issue or specific criterion, this means that there are potentially a number of different types of ‘general’ project information, as per Table 9 that can be sourced by the BREEAM assessor and used to demonstrate compliance. It is the BREEAM assessor’s responsibility to source and verify the ‘general evidence types’ for each relevant criterion, where compliance and credits are being claimed by the project team.

In determining the appropriateness of ‘general evidence types’ for each issue, the principles outlined in Table 8 must be considered by BREEAM assessors. Where the ‘general evidence types’ meet the principles outlined in Table 8 and, where appropriate, the guidance provided in the ‘robustness of evidence’ section, such evidence is admissible for the purpose of the assessment and the BRE Global Quality Assurance checks.

These principles are not listed in a hierarchical order and are all equally important when considering which evidence type to submit to demonstrate compliance for each issue/criterion.

Table 8 BREEAM Evidence principles

  Summary Principle Objective A question to ask to check
1 Evidence provided for all criteria for all credits sought Evidence must demonstrate that ALL relevant* criteria and sub-criteria for each credit sought are achieved and where relevant, is provided to support compliance notes, definitions etc. Completeness Are all criteria and sub-criteria covered? Have all relevant compliance notes and definitions been addressed?
2 Unambiguous assessment The assessment must demonstrate unambiguous compliance and the evidence must support this assessment. Evidence (and supporting notes) must clearly demonstrate to a 3rd party reviewer that the criteria have been met. Independent review compatibility If a 3rd party (e.g. BRE Global Ltd) reviewed my report with the submitted evidence, would they be able to confirm compliance and award the same credits I have?
3 Robust
  1. When selecting the Evidence type, always ensure it is robust and is relevant to the stage of assessment.
  2. The selected Evidence contains all the relevant basic information, with the necessary constituent parts to be deemed robust.

(see The BREEAM evidential requirements section for further details on both of the above)

Proof that evidence is robust and from a reliable source In your judgement as an assessor, is the evidence robust enough to demonstrate compliance with the criterion? Does the evidence contain all the relevant basic information? Is it fully auditable?
4 Use existing evidence Use existing project information to demonstrate compliance. In most cases evidence shouldn’t need to be ‘created’ for BREEAM compliance purposes. Minimises evidence and reduces time and cost of compliance Does robust evidence meeting the above principles already exist that I can use? If I need to ask for more evidence, is the project seeking credits where compliance is not adequately demonstrated?
* Where the assessor/design team deem specific criteria 'not relevant' to the assessment, a full justification should be collated and then submitted as a technical query for review by BRE Global Ltd.

Robustness of Evidence

Robust evidence provides confirmation that the assessment has been carried out correctly and the building complies with the criteria for the BREEAM credits sought. The assessor should consider the following when gathering project information and evaluating whether the evidence provided is as ‘robust’ as possible:

Any evidence submitted for a BREEAM assessment must be robust in terms of its source and its traceability. Below is a list of the minimum information the assessor must expect to see when certain types of evidence are submitted:

Communication records: Any communication records used as evidence must provide clear confirmation of the site name, author’s identity and role, the date and recipient(s) identity.

Formal letters of correspondence: Must be on company/organisation headed note-paper with a signature (electronic signatures are acceptable). Ideally letters should be a secured document. (Please see sections relating to written commitment for further information.)

Meeting minutes: Must include date, location and attendee information (names, organisations and roles), along with a record of the meeting and agreed actions.

Drawings: All drawings must have the building/site name, phase (if applicable), title of drawing, date, revision number and a scale.

Specification: A specification must be clear that it relates to the project under assessment, and it must have a date and revision number. Where sections of a specification are provided the assessor should reference the extract and as a minimum submit the front page of the specification detailing the project name, revision number and date.

Site inspection report: A site inspection report must include the building/site name, date, author and summary text to detail what was witnessed, confirming compliance. Photographic evidence can be used to support the text in the report.

For other types of evidence not listed, the assessor should use the above as a guide for the sort of evidence that is suitable. As a minimum in most cases the evidence used to assess compliance should always contain key information such as the project name, the author, date, revision numbers etc.

Table 9 General evidence types


Document/evidence type



As constructed information

Information produced at the end of a project to represent what has been constructed. This will comprise a mixture of ‘as built’ information/drawings and surveys from specialist subcontractors and the ‘final construction issue’ from design team members.


Building information model (BIM)

The BIM (or BIM files) used for the project containing relevant information/evidence of compliance.


BRE Global correspondence reference number

For example the reference number for a BRE Global response to an assessor's technical query.


BREEAM assessor’s site inspection report

A formal report based on the BREEAM assessor's own survey of the site/building to confirm compliance with BREEAM criteria. An assessor’s site inspection report will be distinct from their formal BREEAM assessment report, serving as a form of evidence of compliance in its own right, and it may include photographs taken by the assessor as part of the survey.


Building contract(s)

The building contract (or excerpts/clauses from it) between the client and the contractor for the construction of the project. In some instances, the building contract may contain design duties for specialist subcontractors and/or design team members.


Certificates of compliance (third party)

Examples include ISO 14001, BES 6001, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), EPC (environmental profile certificate), EPD (environmental product declaration), Considerate Constructors etc.


Communication records

Formal communication records between/from relevant project stakeholders and/or other third parties confirming an appointment, action or outcome. This may be in the form of a letter, meeting minutes, email correspondence, publication or another form of media (see also additional guidance on following pages).


Communication strategy

The strategy that sets out when the project team will meet, how they will communicate effectively and the protocols for issuing information between the various parties, both informally and at information exchanges.


Computer aided modelling results/outputs

Examples include thermal modelling, flooding, life cycle assessment, life cycle costing, ventilation modelling etc.


Construction specification

The specification for the project/building.1 For the purpose of BREEAM the specific clause of the specification must be referenced within the report.


Construction stage data/information

For example, purchase orders, metering data, log books, commissioning records/reports etc.


Contractual tree

A diagram that clarifies the contractual relationship between the client and the parties undertaking the roles required on a project.


Cost information

Project costs, including the cost estimate and life cycle costs.


Design drawings2 Evidence in the form of design drawings must be presented in a clear, professional working format with clearly identified legends indicating revision number, date, title, owner etc. (where appropriate).

Developed Design and Technical Design, including the coordinated architectural, structural and building services design. Site plans, drainage designs.


Design programme

A programme setting out the strategic dates in relation to the design process. It is aligned with the Project Programme but is strategic in its nature, due to the iterative nature of the design process, particularly in the early stages.


Design responsibility matrix

A matrix that sets out who is responsible for designing each aspect of the project and when. This document sets out the extent of any performance specified design.


Feasibility study

Studies undertaken to test the feasibility of the Initial Project Brief for the site or in a specific context and to consider how site-wide issues will be addressed.


Final project brief

The Initial Project Brief amended so that it is aligned with the Concept Design and any briefing decisions made during this stage.


Other third party information

For example, maps, public transport timetables, product data/details, manufacturers’ literature, government/EU standards or codes, EU labelling.


Professional services contract

An agreement to provide professional or consulting services such as designing, feasibility studies, or legal or technical advice.


Professional specialist reports

Professional reports resulting from specialist surveys/studies/test results, e.g. contaminated land, ecology, flood risk assessment, surface water run-off report, site investigation, acoustics, indoor air quality plan, low and zero carbon technologies study, transportation analysis, commissioning reports, passive design analysis report, free cooling analysis report, life cycle assessment, landscape and habitat management plan etc.


Project Execution or Quality Plan

The Project Execution Plan is produced in collaboration with the project lead and lead designer, with contributions from other designers and members of the project team. The Project Execution Plan sets out the processes and protocols to be used to develop the design.


Project programme

The overall period for the briefing, design, construction and post completion activities of a project.


Project roles table

A table that sets out the roles required on a project as well as defining the stages during which those roles are required and the parties responsible for carrying out the roles.


Project strategy

The strategies developed in parallel with the Concept Design to support the design and, in certain instances, to respond to the Final Project Brief as it is concluded. Examples include strategies for sustainability, acoustics, handover, maintenance and operational, fire engineering, building control, technology, health and safety, construction, travel plan, sustainable procurement plan.


Risk assessment

The risk assessment considers the various design risks and other risks on a project and how each risk will be managed and the party responsible for managing each risk.


Schedule of services

A list of specific services and tasks to be undertaken by a party involved in the project which is incorporated into their professional services contract.


Strategic or initial project brief

The brief prepared following discussions with the client to ascertain the project objectives, the client’s business case and, in certain instances, in response to site feasibility studies.

BREEAM UK New Construction non-domestic buildings technical manual 2014
Reference: SD5076 – Issue: 5.0
Date: 23/08/2016
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