Scoring and rating

There are a number of elements that determine the overall performance of a development assessed using BREEAM Communities. These are as follows:

  1. the mandatory BREEAM Communities standards
  2. the BREEAM Communities assessment issues and credits
  3. awarding credits for innovation
  4. the category and assessment issue weightings
  5. the BREEAM rating level benchmarks.

How these elements combine to produce a BREEAM rating is summarised on the following pages. This is followed by a description and example describing the methodology for calculating a rating.

BREEAM rating benchmarks (final certificates only)

The BREEAM rating benchmarks for the BREEAM Communities 2012 scheme are as follows:

Table - 3: BREEAM Communities rating benchmarks


% score












< 30

The BREEAM rating benchmark levels enable a client or other stakeholder to compare an individual developments performance with other BREEAM Communities rated developments.

An unclassified BREEAM rating represents performance that is non-compliant with BREEAM Communities. This may be through a failure to meet either the BREEAM Communities mandatory standards of performance for key sustainability issues or the overall threshold score required for formal BREEAM Communities certification. No certificate will be issued for unclassified assessments and they are not listed on Green Book Live.

Mandatory standards

To maintain a flexible system BREEAM Communities adopts a ‘balanced score-card’ approach to the assessment and rating of a development’s performance. This means that non-compliance in one area can, to some extent be off-set through compliance in another, to achieve the target BREEAM rating, subject to achieving the required overall percentage score.

However, to ensure that performance against fundamental sustainability issues is not overlooked in pursuit of a particular rating, BRE Global sets mandatory standards of performance across the five core categories in BREEAM Communities (see Table - 4: Mandatory BREEAM Communities standards). All of the issues in ‘Step 1: Establishing the principle of development’ have mandatory elements, with a further one issue in Step 2 containing a mandatory element. This means that the development must achieve the mandatory criteria for all of these issues in order to achieve a BREEAM rating of pass or above. Please note that these are not to be seen as a minimum set of requirements for defining a sustainable development nor do they represent best practice for a BREEAM Communties rating level at final certification. Table - 4 sets out the mandatory criteria.

Table - 4: Mandatory BREEAM Communities standards

 Step Identifier Assessment issue Criteria
Step 1

GO 01

SE 01

SE 02

SE 03

SE 04

RE 01

RE 02

RE 03

LE 01

LE 02

TM 01

Consultation plan

Economic impact

Demographic needs and priorities

Flood risk assessment

Noise pollution

Energy strategy

Existing buildings and infrastructure

Water strategy

Ecology strategy

Land use

Transport assessment

1– 3


1– 2

1– 3



1– 2

1– 2

1– 6

1– 2

1– 3

Step 2 GO 02 Consultation and engagement 1– 3
Step 3 None    

BREEAM assessment issues and credits

BREEAM Communities consists of forty individual assessment issues spanning five core technical categories, governance; land use and ecology; resources and energy; social and economic wellbeing; and transport and movement; plus a sixth category called ‘Innovation’ (described below). Each of the assessment issues has a number of credits assigned to it which are awarded where the developments designs and plans meet the performance levels defined for that issue.

It is worth noting that, in addition to the category scores and overall BREEAM Communities rating, verified performance (assigned to different credit levels) against individual assessment issues also provides users with a credible set of key sustainability performance indicators for a range of development impacts. In this respect, it is possible to use the BREEAM Communities method to define performance levels in support of specific organisational policy objectives for individual sustainability issues. Care should be taken when setting planning and 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 planning, development and construction industries. ‘Innovation credits’ provide additional recognition of a development that innovates in the field of sustainable performance, above and beyond the level that is currently recognised and rewarded within the standard BREEAM Communities issues. ‘Innovation credits’ therefore enable clients and design teams to boost their development’s BREEAM Communities performance and help support the market for new and innovative technologies and practices.

An additional 1% can be added to the final category score to which the innovation is most relevant.The maximum number of ‘Innovation credits’ that can be awarded for any one development proposal assessed is 7. Therefore, the maximum available score achieved for innovation is 7%. ‘Innovation credits’ can be awarded regardless of the final BREEAM rating.

To achieve an innovation credit the BREEAM Communities assessor in connection with the client for the project registered for a BREEAM Communities assessment is required to send an application to BRE Global regarding a particular development feature, technology, system or process recognised as 'innovative'. If the application is successful and subsequently development compliance is identified, an 'innovation credit' can be awarded.

Category and assessment issue weightings

The aim of the categories is an important aspect of the BREEAM Communities weighting system. Category weightings were developed by determining the impact of each category against each of the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. The three pillars are equally valued in the manual. Once the category weightings were derived, the individual assessment issues were weighted by prioritising the importance of each assessment issue in terms of its impact on the overall aim of the category.

The 'Social and economic wellbeing' category was broken down into three sub-categories for weighting purposes. This is to ensure the weightings are based on clearly defined aims. These are local economy, social wellbeing and environmental conditions. Table - 5 shows the category aims and weightings.

Table - 5: BREEAM Communities 2012 category aims and weightings

Category Aim Weighting
Governance Promotes community involvement in decisions affecting the design, construction, operation and long-term stewardship of the development. 9.3%
Social and economic wellbeing

Local economy: To create a healthy economy (employment opportunities and thriving business).

Social wellbeing: To ensure a socially cohesive community.

Environmental conditions: To minimise the impacts of environmental conditions on the health and wellbeing of occupants.




Resource and energy Addresses the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction of carbon emissions. 21.6%
Land use and ecology Encourages sustainable land use and ecological enhancement. 12.6%
Transport and movement Addresses the design and provision of transport and movement infrastructure to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport. 13.8%

Each of the forty assessment issues has an individual weighting and a variable number of credits. This means that the value of credits varies depending on the weighting of the assessment issue. The following tables outline the individual weightings for each assessment issue and the value of each credit in that assessment issue.

Table - 6: Governance assessment issue weightings

Governance assessment issue Weighting Credits available Value of each credit
GO 01 - Consultation plan 2.3% 1 2.3%
GO 02 - Consultation and engagement 3.5% 2 1.7%
GO 03 - Design review 2.3% 2 1.2%
GO 04 - Community management of facilities 1.2% 3 0.4%

Table - 7: Social and economic wellbeing assessment issue weightings

Category Social and economic wellbeing issues Weighting Credits available Value of each credit
Local economy SE 01 - Economic impact 8.9% 2 4.4%
Local economy SE 17 - Training and skills 5.9% 3 2%
Social wellbeing SE 02 - Demographic needs and priorities 2.7% 1 2.7%
Social wellbeing SE 05 - Housing provision 2.7% 2 1.4%
Social wellbeing SE 06 - Delivery of services, facilities and amenities 2.7% 7 0.4%
Social wellbeing SE 07 - Public realm 2.7% 2 1.4%
Social wellbeing SE 09 - Utilities 0.9% 3 0.3%
Social wellbeing SE 11 - Green infrastructure 1.8% 4 0.5%
Social wellbeing SE 12 - Local parking 0.9% 1 0.9%
Social wellbeing SE 14 - Local vernacular 0.9% 2 0.5%
Social wellbeing SE 15 - Inclusive design 1.8% 3 0.6%
Environmental conditions SE 03 - Flood risk assessment 1.8% 2 0.9%
Environmental conditions SE 04 - Noise pollution 1.8% 3 0.6%
Environmental conditions SE 08 - Microclimate 1.8% 3 0.6%
Environmental conditions SE 10 - Adapting to climate change 2.7% 3 0.9%
Environmental conditions SE 13 - Flood risk management 1.8% 3 0.6%
Environmental conditions SE 16 - Light pollution 0.9% 3 0.3%

Table - 8: Resources and energy assessment issue weightings

Resources and energy assessment issue Weighting Credits available Value of each credit
RE 01 - Energy strategy 4.1% 11 0.4%
RE 02 - Existing buildings and infrastructure 2.7% 2 1.4%
RE 03 - Water strategy 2.7% 1 2.7%
RE 04 - Sustainable buildings 4.1% 6 0.7%
RE 05 - Low impact materials 2.7% 6 0.5%
RE 06 - Resource efficiency 2.7% 4 0.7%
RE 07 - Transport carbon emissions 2.7% 1 2.7%

Table - 9: Land use and ecology assessment issue weightings

Land use and ecology assessment issue Weighting Credits available Value of each credit
LE 01 - Ecology strategy 3.2% 1 3.2%
LE 02 - Land use 2.1% 3 0.7%
LE 03 - Water pollution 1.1% 3 0.4%
LE 04 - Enhancement of ecological value 3.2% 3 1.1%
LE 05 - Landscape 2.1% 5 0.4%
LE 06 - Rainwater harvesting 1.1% 3 0.4%

Table - 10: Transport and movement assessment issue weightings

Transport and movement assessment issues Weighting Credits available Value of each credit
TM 01 - Transport assessment 3.2% 2 1.6%
TM 02 - Safe and appealing streets 3.2% 4 0.8%
TM 03 - Cycling network 2.1% 1 2.1%
TM 04 - Access to public transport 2.1% 4 0.5%
TM 05 - Cycling facilities 1.1% 2 0.5%
TM 06 - Public transport facilities 2.1% 2 1.1%

Calculating an assessment score

A BREEAM Communities assessor must determine the BREEAM rating using the BREEAM Communities assessment tool. The process of determining a BREEAM rating is outlined below and an example calculation is included in Appendix D. The table in Appendix D illustrates how the scoring system works in practice.

  1. For each assessment issue the number of credits awarded must be determined by the assessor in accordance with the criteria (as detailed in the technical sections of this document).
  2. The credits achieved in each assessment issue are then multiplied by the corresponding individual credit weighting. This gives the assessment issue a weighted score.
  3. In order to determine the category score, the individual assessment issue weighted scores for all issues in any category are added together.
  4. An additional 1% can be added to the final score of the relevant category for each ‘innovation credit’ achieved (up to a maximum of 7%).

See calculation in Appendix D - Example calculation of a BREEAM Communities score and rating

BREEAM Communities technical manual
Reference: SD202 – Issue: 1.2
Date: 14/08/2017
Copyright © 2016 BRE Global. All rights reserved.