First launched in 1990, BREEAM was the world’s first environmental assessment method for new building designs. It uses a balanced scorecard approach with tradable credits to enable the market to decide how to achieve optimum environmental performance for the project. Over the years BREEAM has been regularly updated and applied to an ever growing range of development types, designs and lifecycle stages. BREEAM is now applied in its various forms in over 50 countries.
In 2011 BREEAM committed to widening the group of stakeholders involved in its future development, both strategically and at the local level. In doing so it aims to be a vehicle for design support, as well as assessment, across all development life cycle stages and infrastructure, including the master planning of large scale developments. In BREEAM Communities the environmental assessment method is expanded to more holistically approach sustainability with greater consideration of the social and economic impacts of development. BREEAM is a continually evolving methodology. This places BREEAM in the forefront of sustainable development, with local schemes, processes, science and governance cooperating internationally under an overarching framework defined by core standards and core science.
BREEAM aims to ensure that its standards provide social and economic benefits whilst mitigating the environmental impacts of the built environment. In doing so, BREEAM enables developments to be recognised according to their sustainability benefits and stimulates demand for sustainable development.
BREEAM has been developed to meet the following underlying principles:
Building on the high level aims and objectives of the various standards in the BREEAM family, BREEAM Communities is an independent, third party assessment and certification standard based on the established BREEAM methodology. It is a framework for considering the issues and opportunities that affect sustainability at the earliest stage of the design process for a development. The scheme addresses key environmental, social and economic sustainability objectives that have an impact on large-scale development projects.
BRE recognises that the selection of an appropriate site for development is a critical factor in determining how sustainable a new community will be. In the UK, the process of selecting sites for development is largely determined by local planning authorities, developers and landowners, therefore the issue of site selection is not currently covered by BREEAM Communities. This scheme covers the assessment and certification of the designs and plans for new development and regeneration projects at the neighbourhood scale or larger, to influence decisions that will have a fundamental impact on sustainability. At present, post-construction certification is not included in this assessment; however BREEAM may develop further stages of performance evaluations for communities in the future.
There are three steps involved in the assessment of sustainability at the masterplanning level:
Masterplanning is an iterative process characterised by developing plans, consulting stakeholders and revising plans. The steps and the organisation of this manual aim to assist project managers in linking masterplanning with the assessment process and ensure that issues are addressed at the appropriate time in the masterplanning process. However, it may be the case that activities are carried out in a different order to that presented in this technical manual. Design teams for smaller sites in particular may find that Steps 1 to 3 in the manual overlap considerably with less distinction between the actions taken at each stage.
The issues within this manual are grouped into five assessment categories which are considered through appropriate criteria in Steps 1 to 3 described above. It is difficult to categorise sustainability issues definitively, as they often affect all three dimensions of sustainability (social, environmental and economic). By assigning categories, BREEAM seeks to provide some clarity about the intention of each issue. A sixth category promotes the adoption and dissemination of innovative solutions. The categories are listed below with a brief description of their overall aims:
Table - 1 sets out the issues assessed under each category and the steps that they are considered in.
|Step 1||Step 2||Step 3|
|GO 01 – Consultation plan||
GO 02 – Consultation and engagement
GO 03 – Design review
GO 04 – Community management of facilities
|Social and economic wellbeing|
SE 01 – Economic impact
SE 02 – Demographic needs and priorities
SE 03 – Flood Risk Assessment
SE 04 – Noise pollution
SE 05 – Housing provision
SE 06 – Delivery of services, facilities and amenities
SE 07 – Public realm
SE 08 – Microclimate
SE 09 – Utilities
SE 10 – Adapting to climate change
SE 11 – Green infrastructure
SE 12 – Local parking
SE 14 – Local vernacular
SE 16 – Light pollution
SE 17 – Training and skills
|Resources and energy|
RE 01 – Energy strategy
RE 02 – Existing buildings and infrastructure
RE 03 - Water strategy
RE 04 – Sustainable buildings
RE 05 – Low impact materials
RE 06 – Resource efficiency
RE 07 – Transport carbon emissions
|Land use and ecology|
LE 01 – Ecology strategy
LE 02 – Land use
LE 03 – Water pollution
LE 04 – Enhancement of ecological value
LE 05 – Landscape
LE 06 – Rainwater harvesting
|Transport and movement|
|TM 01 – Transport assessment||
TM 02 – Safe and appealing streets
TM 03 – Cycling network
TM 04 – Access to public transport
TM 05 – Cycling facilities
TM 06 – Public transport facilities
Consultation and engagement are widely recognised as essential processes in the development of a sustainable community. In BREEAM Communities there are many assessment issues that require some form of consultation with community representatives and other stakeholders. A consultation plan is required in step 1 of the manual. By its nature, consultation is a variable activity and differs depending on the development project. For this reason the scheme focuses on a robust consultation plan that is created by the design team to allow for different project priorities. The consultation plan sets out the timescales and method of consultation as well as who will be consulted and what they will be consulted about. This plan is implemented throughout steps 2 and 3. Table - 2 sets out the issues in BREEAM Communities that contain an element of consultation.
GO 01 - Consultation plan
SE 02 - Demographic needs and priorities
RE 02 - Existing buildings and infrastructure
LE 01 - Ecology strategy
GO 02 - Consultation and engagement
GO 03 - Design review
SE 06 - Delivery of services, facilities and amenities
SE 07 - Public realm
SE 11 - Green infrastructure
SE 12 - Local parking
LE 05 - Landscape
GO 04 - Community management of facilities
SE 14 - Local vernacular
SE 17 - Training and skills
TM 05 - Cycling facilities
TM 06 - Public transport facilities
The issues in 'Step 1: Establishing the principles' cover assessments and strategies that are generally required for outline planning permission for larger developments in the UK. However, this does not mean that completion of step 1 will ensure that all of the requirements for outline planning permission have been completed.
In order to simplify the assessment process as far as possible, BREEAM Communities utilises the studies and strategies that are prepared to meet UK and EU legislative requirements by accepting them as a part of the evidence required to achieve credits. For example, the work done for an Environmental Impact Assessment would be appropriate evidence for many of the land use and ecology assessment issues. A full list of the documents typically required for planning applications that are also applicable to this scheme is available in Appendix A - The BREEAM evidential requirements. To achieve a rating, the scheme requires the developer to go above and beyond the minimum requirements set out in national and international regulations and policies.
The issues in step 1 do not replace legislative requirements such as the need to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments1See European Directive 85/337/EEC on "The assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment" as amended by Directives 97/11/EC and 2003/35/EC.. Similarly, where BREEAM Communities is used to inform a large programme or plan, the scheme does not replace the requirements for Sustainability Appraisal or Strategic Environmental Assessment2 See European Directive 2001/42/EC (the Strategic Environmental Assessment or SEA Directive) "on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment". . Figure 2 demonstrates how these requirements align with and complement BREEAM Communities.
The assessment issues within BREEAM Communities address sustainability at the site-wide scale. Topics like energy and surface water run off can have a significant impact when they are planned on a larger scale than an individual building. For example, site-wide energy technologies such as district heating systems are viable where they serve multiple buildings with different heat requirements across a 24 hour period. BREEAM Communities was created to ensure that such opportunities are considered at the early stages of the design process. Individual building design issues are not assessed at this stage. However, the assessment issues in BREEAM Communities complement issues within many other BREEAM schemes.
BREEAM Communities addresses the long-term economic success of a development through the assessment of a number of issues, including:
Consideration of the economic impact of other factors (such as ecology, resources, transport and social wellbeing) is given through full assessments of site constraints and opportunities in relation to resources and services that extend beyond the development. These assessments are developed into strategies that guide decision making throughout the masterplanning process. The BREEAM Communities approach takes account of the economic effects of increasing demand on resources, services and land into the future as well as the direct and indirect costs associated with the impacts of climate change.
BREEAM Communities does not set guidelines for the development economics of a site. This is the responsibility of the local authority and the developer, as every development has unique circumstances that determine site level viability. BREEAM Communities is designed to be flexible whilst ensuring it drives real and measurable improvement in a non-prescriptive way. Flexibility is also achieved by limiting mandatory standards (as much as possible) to issues that are normally required for planning applications for developments at this scale.
To get the most benefit from using BREEAM Communities it is important to appoint a BREEAM Communities Assessor early in the project. This will have a variety of benefits, including:
Figure 2 shows the relationship between BREEAM Communities, the design process (through the Urban Design Compendium and RIBA Outline Plan of Work) and statutory requirements.
This BREEAM Communities technical manual has been created:
The technical manual is split in to eight parts:
The Scope of BREEAM Communities section details the types of development projects and stages of assessment that BREEAM Communities can be applied to. This can be used by clients and BREEAM assessors to check whether this is the correct BREEAM scheme to use for their project.
The Scoring and rating section outlines the BREEAM Communities rating level benchmarks and mandatory standards. It also describes the individual BREEAM Communities assessment issues and BREEAM Communities credits, including 'innovation credits' and how performance against these is calculated and expressed as a BREEAM Communities rating.
Steps 1 – 3 include a detailed description of each of the forty assessment issues. Each issue defines the aim, a level of performance (the assessment criteria) against which the assessed development proposal demonstrates compliance, and the appropriate evidence required to achieve the corresponding number of available BREEAM Communities credits.
The majority of BREEAM Communities issues are optional, meaning that a client/design team can pick and choose which to target in order to build their score and achieve the desired BREEAM Communities rating. However, some BREEAM Communities issues have mandatory elements meaning that to achieve a particular BREEAM rating certain criteria must be achieved (refer to Scoring and rating ).
Each BREEAM Communities issue is structured as follows:
The BREEAM Communities assessment process provides a means of evaluating a development’s performance against the scheme and its criteria using an independent third party auditor (the BREEAM Communities assessor). The BREEAM Communities certificate, issued by the National Scheme Operator (NSO - BRE Global in the UK), provides formal verification that the assessor has completed an assessment of a development in accordance with the requirements of the scheme and its quality standards and procedures. A BREEAM Communities certificate therefore provides assurance to any interested party that a development’s BREEAM rating, at the time of certification, accurately reflects its performance against the BREEAM Communities standard.
All BREEAM assessed and certified developments are listed on Green Book Live (along with a directory of licensed BREEAM Assessors). Green Book Live is a free to use, publicly available online database designed to help specifiers and end users identify products and services that can help to reduce their impact on the environment.
Anyone wishing to verify the BREEAM rating of a development can do so by either checking a development’s BREEAM Communities certificate, which will contain the BREEAM certification mark, (see below) or by searching Green Book Live for a specific listing.
BREEAM Communities technical manual
Reference: SD202 – Issue: 1.2
Copyright © 2016 BRE Global. All rights reserved.