Scoring and rating BREEAM-assessed buildings

BREEAM rating benchmarks

There are a number of elements that determine the overall performance of a refurbishment or fit-out project assessed using BREEAM; these are as follows:

  1. The scope of the assessment
  2. The BREEAM rating level benchmarks
  3. The minimum BREEAM standards
  4. The environmental section weightings
  5. The BREEAM assessment issues and credits

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

The BREEAM rating benchmarks for projects assessed using the 2014 version of BREEAM UK Refurbishment and Fit-out are as follows:

Table 4 BREEAM rating benchmarks

BREEAM Rating % score
OUTSTANDING 85
EXCELLENT 70
VERY GOOD 55
GOOD 45
PASS 30
UNCLASSIFIED < 30

The BREEAM rating benchmarks enable a client and all other stakeholders to compare the performance of a refurbishment or fit-out project with other BREEAM rated buildings, and the typical sustainability performance of a stock of existing non-domestic buildings in the UK.

In this respect each BREEAM rating broadly represents performance equivalent to:

  1. Outstanding: Less than top 1% of UK refurbishment or fit-out projects (innovator)
  2. Excellent: Top 10% of UK refurbishment or fit-out projects (best practice)
  3. Very Good: Top 25% of UK refurbishment or fit-out projects (advanced good practice)
  4. Good: Top 50% of UK refurbishment or fit-out projects (intermediate good practice)
  5. Pass: Top 75% of UK refurbishment or fit-out projects (standard good practice)

An unclassified BREEAM rating represents performance that is non-compliant with BREEAM, in terms of failing to meet either the BREEAM minimum standards of performance for key environmental issues or the overall threshold score required to achieve at least a Pass rating.

Minimum standards

To maintain a flexible system BREEAM adopts a ‘balanced score-card’ approach to the assessment and rating of a refurbishment or fit-out project. This means that to achieve a particular level of performance the majority of BREEAM credits can be traded, i.e. non-compliance in one area can be off-set through compliance in another to achieve the target BREEAM rating.

However, to ensure that performance against fundamental environmental issues is not overlooked in pursuit of a particular rating, BREEAM sets minimum standards of performance in key areas, e.g. energy, water, waste etc. It is important to bear in mind that these are minimum acceptable levels of performance and in that respect they should not necessarily be viewed as levels that are representative of best practice for a BREEAM rating level.

To achieve a particular BREEAM rating, the minimum overall percentage score must be achieved and the minimum standards, detailed in Table 5 below, applicable to that rating level complied with. The required minimum standards also vary depending upon the applicable assessment parts, in order to reflect the potential influence a project may have over achievement of the minimum standards, given a project types scope of works.

Table 5 Minimum BREEAM standards by rating level

Minimum standards by BREEAM rating level
BREEAM issue Pass Good Very Good Excellent Outstanding
Man 03: Responsible construction practices None None None

One credit (Considerate construction)

Two credits (Considerate construction)

Man 04: Commissioning and handover None None None

Criterion 9 (Building User Guide)

Criterion 9 (Building User Guide)

Man 05: Aftercare None None None

Parts 2 and 3 only:

One credit (Seasonal commissioning)

Parts 2 and 3 only: One credit (Seasonal commissioning)
Ene 01: Reduction of energy use and carbon emissions None None None Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 (full assessments): Six credits, varies for other assessment types Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 (full assessments): Ten credits, varies for other assessment types
Ene 02: Energy monitoring None None

Parts 2, 3 and 4: One credit

(First sub-metering credit)

Parts 2, 3 and 4: One credit

(First sub-metering credit)

Parts 2, 3 and 4: One credit

(First sub-metering credit)

Wat 01: Water consumption None

One credit

(where applicable)

One credit (where applicable) One credit (where applicable) Two credits (where applicable)
Wat 02: Water monitoring None Part 2: Criterion 1 only Part 2: Criterion 1 only Part 2: Criterion 1 only Part 2: Criterion 1 only
Mat 03: Responsible sourcing of materials Criterion 1 only Criterion 1 only Criterion 1 only Criterion 1 only Criterion 1 only
Wst 01: Project waste management None None None None One credit
Wst 03: Operational waste None None None One credit One credit

Environmental section weightings

Environmental weightings are fundamental to any building environmental assessment method as they provide a means of defining, and therefore ranking, the relative impact of environmental issues. BREEAM uses an explicit weighting system derived from a combination of consensus based weightings and ranking by a panel of experts. The outputs from this exercise are then used to determine the relative value of the environmental sections used in BREEAM and their contribution to the overall BREEAM score.

This weighting system is defined in greater detail within the BRE Global Core Process Standard (BES 5301) and its supporting procedural documents. These form part of the over-arching BREEAM Standard and the Code for a Sustainable Built Environment. The same ranking of impacts used in BREEAM underpins the scoring mechanisms in the BRE Green Guide to Specification and the BRE Environmental Profiling Method for construction materials.

Table 6 outlines the weightings for each of the nine environmental sections included in the BREEAM UK Refurbishment and Fit-out 2014 scheme. The core weightings are applied to a fully fitted building (i.e. a major refurbishment assessed against all Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4) and are also used for the basis of defining the weightings for all other projects. For other project types, not being assessed against all parts, such as a fit-out project assessed against Parts 3 or 4 only, the core weightings are applied proportionately according to the number of credits available in each category for that project type. Project specific weightings for common projects types are illustrated in Table 6 .

Weightings discrepancy on BREEAM Projects. Completing the 'initial details' section of the BREEAM RFO pre-assessment or full assessment tool ensures that the appropriate issues are filtered in or out of the assessment, depending on the project scope. This means that the weightings are also adjusted accordingly, so that the total of the building's environmental sections' weightings always remains 100%.

Table 6 Indicative BREEAM Environmental section weightings for common project types

Environmental section Project specific weightings
Core weightings Part 1 only Part 2 only Part 3 only Part 4 only Parts 1 and 2 Parts 2 and 3 Parts 3 and 4
Management 12% 15.0% 16.7% 16.5% 20.0% 13.0% 16.5% 14.1%
Health and Wellbeing 15% 14.8% 14.4% 15.3% 19.9% 11.0% 15.3% 15.9%
Energy 19% 16.4% 24.5% 24.3% 2.5% 18.8% 24.3% 22.5%
Transport 8% 10.0% 11.2% 11.1% 13.4% 8.6% 11.1% 9.5%
Water 6% 0.0% 7.5% 7.4% 10.1% 5.7% 7.4% 7.1%
Materials 12.5% 15.6% 5.4% 5.3% 19.3% 13.4% 5.3% 13.7%
Waste 7.5% 9.4% 9.3% 9.2% 11.2% 8.1% 9.2% 7.9%
Land Use and Ecology 10% 12.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 10.7% 0.0% 0.0%
Pollution 10% 6.3% 11.0% 10.9% 3.6% 10.7% 10.9% 9.3%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Innovation (additional) 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10%

Each of the above environmental sections consists of a differing number of assessment issues and BREEAM credits (as described below and defined in detail in the technical sections of this Scheme Document). The BREEAM RFO weightings given in Table 6 are for common project types, purely as a starting guide and can be expected to vary significantly for real projects, with the complexity and applicability of the Parts, issues and credits.

Calculating a building's BREEAM rating

A BREEAM assessor must determine the BREEAM rating using the appropriate assessment tools and calculators. An indication of performance against the BREEAM scheme can also be determined using a BREEAM Pre-Assessment Estimator. The Pre-Assessment Estimator is available from the BREEAM website www.breeam.com.

The process of determining a BREEAM rating is outlined below and an example calculation included in Table 7 .

  1. Firstly the BREEAM UK Refurbishment and Fit-out 2014 scheme parts assessed need to be selected according to the project type and scope of works. The appropriate BREEAM assessment tool or calculator then adjusts the scoring and weightings to reflect the categories and individual credits assessed.
  2. The BREEAM assessor will then determine for each of BREEAM’s nine environmental sections (as applicable) the number of ‘credits’ awarded. This must be determined by the BREEAM assessor in accordance with the criteria of each assessment issue (as detailed in the technical sections of this document).
  3. The percentage of credits achieved is then calculated for each section.
  4. The percentage of credits achieved in each section is then multiplied by the corresponding section weighting. This gives the overall environmental section score.
  5. The section scores are then added together to give the overall BREEAM score.
  6. The overall score is then compared to the BREEAM rating benchmark levels and, provided all minimum standards have been met, the relevant BREEAM rating is achieved.
  7. An additional 1% can be added to the final BREEAM score for each innovation credit achieved (up to a maximum of 10% and with the total BREEAM score capped at 100%).

Table 7 Example BREEAM score and rating calculation for a fully fitted building assessed against Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4

BREEAM Section Credits Achieved Credits Available % of Credits Achieved Section
Weighting (fully fitted)
% Section Score
Management 10 21 47.62 0.12 5.71
Health and Wellbeing 17 22 77.27 0.15 11.59
Energy 16 34 47.05 0.15 7.05
Transport 5 12 41.67 0.09 3.75
Water 5 9 55.56 0.07 3.89
Materials 10 13 76.92 0.135 10.38
Waste 3 12 25.00 0.085 2.13
Land Use and Ecology 5 5 100.00 0.10 10.00
Pollution 5 13 38.46 0.10 3.85
Innovation 2 10 20.00 0.10 2.00
Final BREEAM score   60.36%
BREEAM Rating   VERY GOOD

Table 8 Minimum standards for a BREEAM Very Good rating

Minimum standards for
BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating
Achieved?
Man 03: Responsible construction practices Y
Ene 02: Energy monitoring Y
Wat 01: Water consumption Y
Wat 02: Water monitoring Y
Mat 03: Responsible sourcing of materials Y

Comparing BREEAM ratings and scores between different projects

Alongside the flexible structure provided by the BREEAM UK Refurbishment and Fit-out 2014 scheme, the scheme also provides transparency regarding the scope of an assessment, in order to allow comparability between different projects across the property market.

Where comparing two projects assessed against the scheme, it is important to recognise the scope of the assessment and the BREEAM UK Refurbishment and Fit-out 2014 scheme parts assessed, to give a true reflection of what the project has achieved in terms of improving the overall existing building's performance. This scope will be clearly reflected in the assessment report and on the certificate.

Comparing building performance

Where seeking to compare sustainability of two projects in relation to their predicted overall impact on building sustainability, this comparison can only be made where each project has been assessed against the same assessment parts. For example, comparing two projects that have both been assessed against Part 2: Core Services is possible as both assessments will have a comparable scope. A comparison could not however be made between a project assessed under Part 2 and a project assessed against Part 4: Interior Design only as Part 4 mainly relates to the impact of interior finishes, fittings and equipment, whereas Part 2 relates to sustainability of core building services.

Comparing project team performance

The BREEAM rating allows the performance of project teams to be compared as it reflects the effort made to address the sustainability opportunities that are within the scope of influence of that project type. For example an 'Excellent' rated fit-out project assessed against Part 4 only, can be compared to an 'Excellent' rated major refurbishment project that has been assessed against all Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, in terms of the performance of each project team and the effort made within the scope of works. This is because each project team would have met the minimum benchmark required for their respective project type, reflecting that they have achieved the sustainability requirements within the scope of their project type.

Relationship with BIU performance

As the In-Use phase of buildings lasts for multiple years, BREEAM In-Use has been developed to assess the on-going performance of existing buildings and identifies opportunities for improvements in a continuous cycle. A BREEAM In-Use assessment can therefore be used to inform where and when refurbishments should be carried out and how these perform against the targets once completed. The BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-out scheme can then be used to assess and certify the delivery of a sustainable refurbishment and fit-out, in order to mitigate the life cycle impacts of existing buildings on the environment in a robust and cost-effecive manner.

Table 9 BREEAM In-Use KPIs

KPI Description Measurement
KPI 1 Building CO2(kgCO2eq pa per m2GIA) The mass of CO2eq11 per square metre of the asset (GIA2) arising from direct fuel use at the asset (for electricity, heating and cooling) consumed during the reporting year.
KPI 2 Building CO2(kgCO2eq pa per FTE) The mass of CO2eq per Full Time Equivalent3 personnel employed at the asset arising from the fuel and electricity consumed by the asset during the reporting year.
KPI 3 Business Travel CO2(kgCO2eq pa per m2GIA) The mass of CO2eq per square metre of the asset (GIA) arising from business travel by personnel (based at the asset) and from goods (dispatched from the asset) during the reporting year.
Staff Travel CO2(kgCO2eq pa per m2GIA) The mass of CO2eq per square metre of the asset (GIA) arising from business travel by personnel (based at the asset) during the reporting year.
Goods Transport CO2(kgCO2eq pa per m2GIA) The mass of CO2eq per square metre of the asset (GIA) arising from business travel associated with goods (dispatched from the asset) during the reporting year.
KPI 4 Staff Commute CO2(kgCO2eq pa per m2GIA) The mass of CO2eq per square metre of the asset (GIA) arising from personnel travel to and from the asset during the reporting year.
KPI 5 Total CO2(kgCO2eq pa per m2GIA) Total mass of CO2eq per square metre of the asset (GIA) arising from the fuel and electricity consumed by the asset, business travel of personnel based at the asset and transport of goods despatched from the asset, during the reporting year.
KPI 6 Building Primary Energy (kWh pa per m2GIA) The kilowatt hours per square metre of the asset (GIA) of fuel and electricity consumed by the asset, measured in terms of primary energy4equivalent, for the reporting year
KPI 7 Water Consumption (m3pa per m2GIA) The cubic meters of water consumed by the asset in the reporting year per square meter of the asset (GIA).
KPI 8 Total Waste (tonnes pa per m2) The tonnes of waste removed from the asset during the reporting year per square metre of the asset (GIA).
KPI 9 Proportion of Waste Recycled (%) Percentage of total waste produced by the asset which is recycled.
KPI 10 Proportion of Waste to Landfill (%) Percentage of total waste produced by the asset which is sent to landfill.