A building has a fairly high annual expense. It is a cost that investors take into account. Sus
tainable construction and high energy efficiency are interesting for reducing the expenses of a building. Green buildings are a solution to the problem of high energy consumption. The advantages of an ecological building are well studied and are known to users and investors. Here I highline some of the adventages:
Although we already know that obtaining a sustainability certificate and reaching an ecological standard in a building means an increase in investment costs.
There are many systems to assess the sustainability of a building, for example, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Leedership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB), WELL, Passivhaus, etc.
This text focuses on the BREEAM certification because of its popularity. However, we will analyse LEED, Passivhaus and WELL certifications in the same way later.
First, certifying means following a process, a well-defined methodology. Which is a way to have a step-by-step guide to achieve a sustainable project in a real and fluid way.
Second. In a certification, the objectives are established in a way that can be measured in a tangible way, so that sustainability can be easily evaluated and compared between buildings. Therefore, the building data is measurable and as user you can evaluate the quality of what has been achieved.
And finally, you can check the quality. In other words, it is possible to ensure and corroborate that the measures or objectives set have been successfully achieved. The final result of the project is not only in the hands of the planning team and the construction company, but an external entity controls the entire design and construction process so that the final result meets the objectives that have been defined in the project. This entity has to justify everything carried out on site in order for it to grant us the sustainability certification.
These are the most popular reasons developers choose to certify a building, ordered from highest to lowest decision weight.
- Changes in the market
- Lower costs in 10 years.
- Customer requirements.
- Healthier construction.
- Market requirements.
- Awareness that it is the right thing to do.
- Environmental regulations.
- Commitments and internal corporations.
- High value of buildings.
It started in the UK and is now popular around the world. BREEAM leads the list of sustainability certifications. For example, between 2013 and 2017, more than 10,800 certification assessments were issued in the design and construction process. This method was launched in 1990 in the UK through the Building Research Establishment (BRE). At the beginning it focused a lot on environmental aspects, but in the last decade economic and social aspects have been added. It is currently being applied in more than 77 countries around the world.
Some reasons to choose BREEAM
For the BREEAM certification, 10 categories are taken into account to measure the value of sustainability: management, health and well-being, energy, transport, water, materials, waste, land use and ecology, pollution, innovation. Each of these categories is divided into other specific questions in that field with a specific objective and a specific score.
During the certification process, a BREEAM consultant determines how much score is awarded to each of the categories. Record the points or credits in a table where they are weighted and adjusted to a scoring scale: excellent, very good, good, approved and not graded.
Does BREEAM meet Sustainable Development Goals?
The method demonstrates support for the sustainable development goals because through the set of 10 BREEAM categories, a large part of the sustainable development goals is contributed. As minimum, BREEAM contributes to the fulfilment of the following SDG sustainable development goals:
- SDG 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- SDG 6. Guarantee the availability of water and its sustainable management and sanitation for all.
- SDG 7. Ensure access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy for all
- SDG 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- SDG 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- SDG 12. Guarantee sustainable consumption and production patterns
- SDG 13. Adopt urgent measures to combat climate change and its effects
- SDG 15. Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt the loss of biodiversity
It always starts with choosing a recognized advisor. They are usually independent professionals and they are not related with clients, with planning team and with the promoter. Advisors are recognized by BREEAM as the valid interlocutors to represent the BREEAM certifying entity. They do the consulting and advisory work from the project phase to the execution phase and even in the maintenance phase.
The consultant person registers the project, performs a pre-evaluation and defines the strategy to be followed to achieve certification. The final evaluation is accompanied by a collection of evidence that the assessor defines in a report, so that a provisional certificate can be awarded in that design phase. Afterwards, to issue the Final Certificate in the post-construction phase, a verification of the report presented by the assessor is made, and the evidences are reviewed and all the justifications of the requirements are made so that the BREEAM endorsement grants the final certificate.
5. Recommendations, tips and advice to get the BREEAM certificate.
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Author: Pablo Vílchez García