BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method and was the first holistic assessment of a building’s environmental impact.  The BREEAM brand has been expanded over the last few years to the BREEAM family of assessment methods and tools which are all designed to help construction professionals understand and mitigate the environmental impacts of development.

BREEAM Buildings is the aspect of the BREEAM family that this website focuses on and is used to assess the environmental performance of any type of building (new or existing). Standard versions of BREEAM exist for common building types and less common building types can be assessed against tailored criteria using the BREEAM Other Buildings version.  Buildings outside the UK can also be assessed using BREEAM International.
Other BREEAM Tools include; BREEAM Specification: The Green Guide, BREEAM Envest, BREEAM Smartwaste, BREEAM Developments and BREEAM LCA. Further details on these tools can be found on the BRE website (www.breeam.org)

BREEAM Assessor
A BREEAM assessor is someone who has been deemed qualified by BRE, through training and examination on one of BRE’s recognised BREEAM assessor courses and who is working under their company’s BREEAM licence. BREEAM assessors are trained in specific BREEAM schemes relating to particular building types.

BREEAM Accredited Professional (BREEAM AP) assists the project team from the earliest stages of a project with meeting the requirements for a BREEAM assessment. A BREEAM AP will assist the team in establishing a sustainability strategy for the project to help with meeting the BREEAM criteria in a cost effective manner. A BREEAM AP is an experienced construction professional who BRE has deemed qualified to assist the design team with BREEAM issues. A BREEAM AP may also be a BREEAM Assessor.

BREEAM Assessment
A BREEAM assessment is the audit process through which a building is assessed and can achieve a BREEAM rating and certificate. The assessment consists of information gathering, a review of the information (by a BREEAM assessor) and a report indicating how the building performs which is quality assured by BRE.

BREEAM rating
This is the score achieved at the end of the assessment. The rating will either be a Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent or Outstanding rating.

The latest implementation of the BREEAM scheme is BREEAM 2011. This version of BREEAM is only applicable to new construction projects. BREEAM 2011 has a revised approach to assessing the energy performance of a design and many small changes to the criteria.
BREEAM In-Use is a scheme to help building managers reduce the running costs and improve the environmental performance of existing buildings. It consists of a standard, an easy-to-use assessment methodology and an independent certification process that provides a clear and credible route map to improving sustainability. Parts 1 and 2 of the BREEAM In-Use Certification Scheme are relevant to all non-domestic: commercial, industrial, retail and institutional buildings. Part 3 of the BREEAM In-Use certification scheme is currently restricted to offices. BREEAM In-Use has been developed to recognise and encourage better building management and targeted investment in existing building stock.

BREEAM In-Use is designed to:

  •     Reduce operational costs,
  •     Enhance the value and marketability of property assets,
  •     Provide a transparent platform for landlords, owners and tenants to identify and negotiate building improvements,
  •     Provide a route to compliance with environmental legislation and standards, including energy labelling and ISO 14001,
  •     Facilitate engagement with staff in the identification of productivity improvements and sustainable business practices,
  •     Provide a vehicle to evaluate and improve Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),
  •     Provide genuine evidence of sustainability and CSR.

BREEAM Offices
BREEAM Offices is the world’s most widely used means of reviewing and improving the environmental performance of office buildings. BREEAM Offices assessments can be carried out on both new and existing office buildings either using a design stage or an operational stage assessment.

BREEAM Retail can be used to carry out environmental assessments for most types of retail development, and for a number of different stakeholders ranging from developers to individual tenants, managing agents and landlords. Assessments can be carried out on single units or whole developments at four different stages in the building life cycle: new build, major refurbishment, tenant fit-out, existing building (occupied): called ‘Management and Operation’ assessment.

BREEAM Retail can assess the following types of retail developments:
* General display and sale of goods: For example Shopping Centre, DIY stores, showrooms and all general retail outlets
* Food retail: For example supermarkets, general stores with a food retail section and shops selling food for consumption off the premises.
* Customer service retail: For example bank, post office, dry cleaners, travel agency etc.
Currently BREEAM Retail cannot assess restaurants that do not form part of a wider retail development.

BREEAM Education
BREEAM Education helps schools, LEA’s, further and higher education buildings and funding bodies to set environmental targets for new and refurbished education buildings. It also serves as a useful tool for designers by demonstrating the environmental performance of their designs. Assessments can be carried out at the design and post construction for primary and secondary schools including new schools, major refurbishment projects and extensions. Assessments can also be carried out on any new further education building including colleges and vocational training facilities. This method does not cover higher educational buildings as these tend to have more complex needs such as research facilities, laboratories and accommodation.

BREEAM Industrial
BREEAM Industrial can be used to assess the environmental impact of storage and distribution, light industrial units, factories and workshops. Buildings assessed under BREEAM Industrial will be broadly categorised into one of the following types:
* Speculative: This category covers the assessment of speculatively developed buildings with an unknown end occupier or
* Fitted Out: This category covers the assessment of buildings (i) designed and fitted out for a known end occupier, or (ii) where the end occupier is unknown but the operational area is being fitted out.
BREEAM Industrial assessments can be carried out for new buildings, design stage and post construction stages and buildings undergoing major refurbishment.

BREEAM Multi-Residential
A number of multi-residential homes do not fit into the standard EcoHomes or Code for Sustainable Homes schemes due to their shared services and facilities, BRE therefore developed a bespoke version of EcoHomes called BREEAM Multi-Residential
In addition to the issues covered by EcoHomes, BREEAM Multi-Residential looks at communal services and the management of communal areas within the building such as catering facilities, lounges, dining rooms, health and leisure areas, offices, meeting rooms and other support areas (e.g. laundries).
Buildings that may be assessed under BREEAM Multi-Residential are typically: student halls of residence/key worker accommodation, sheltered housing for the elderly (but not care homes with extensive medical facilities), supported housing for mentally/physically disabled persons, hostel type accommodation (such as for the homeless, women’s refuges etc.).

BREEAM Courts was developed on behalf for the Department for Constitutional Affairs to assess the environmental impact of courts in England and Wales. This BREEAM version can assess both new build and the major refurbishment of court buildings. This BREEAM version can assess the following type of court buildings: Crown, Criminal, County, Magistrates, Family, Youth, Combined Courts and Civil Justice Centres. BREEAM Courts assessments are certified through the BREEAM Bespoke version and are therefore only carried out by licensed BREEAM Bespoke assessors.

BREEAM Prisons
BRE has developed BREEAM Prisons in association with the National Offender Management Service. BREEAM Prisons can be used to assess the environmental impacts of new build and major refurbishments projects that form a part of one of the following types of prison establishments: High security prisons (normally holding category A prisoners), standard secured prisons (normally holding category B and/or C prisoners), young offender institutions, local prisons (receiving prisoners directly from court on remand or newly sentenced) and women’s prisons (closed prisons only).

BREEAM Prisons can be used to assess any of the following building types where they form a part of one of the above types of establishment: House/segregation block, Visitors centres, Workshop, Education & Training, Gatehouse, Reception building, Kitchen, Sports hall/gymnasium, Healthcare unit, Multi-faith building, Laundry, Main stores, Estates building
BREEAM Prisons assessments can only be carried out by our licensed Bespoke BREEAM assessors or a BREEAM Prisons assessor.

BREEAM Bespoke
A BREEAM Bespoke assessment can be carried out on any building which falls outside the standard BREEAM versions. Assessment criteria, based on the standard schemes, are specifically tailored to the building type, once the criteria are developed, the assessment proceeds as a standard assessment.
Examples of buildings that have been assessed using the BREEAM Bespoke scheme include; hotels, laboratories, leisure facilities and library buildings.

Code for Sustainable Homes
In April 2007 the Code for Sustainable Homes replaced EcoHomes for the assessment of new housing in England. The Code is an environmental assessment method for new homes based upon BRE’s EcoHomes and contains mandatory performance levels in seven key areas. The Code aims to protect the environment by providing guidance on the construction of high performance homes built with sustainability in mind.

The Scope of the Code is similar to EcoHomes with new mandatory minimum levels of performance, a six level scoring system (Code Level 1 – Level 6), and a two stage approach (i) an initial assessment and interim certification at the design stage and (ii) final assessment and certification after construction.

On the 27 February 2008 the Government confirmed that from 1 May 2008 it would be mandatory for all new homes to have a rating against the Code. Please note that the new regulations for providing for mandatory ratings does not apply to properties (individual or as part of an ongoing development) where the initial notice, full plans or Building Notice have been received by the relevant Local Authority Building Control body prior to 1st May 2008.

BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment 

EcoHomes has been discontinued bty BRE Global following the launch of BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment.

EcoHomes is a version of BREEAM for homes. It provides an authoritative rating for new, converted or renovated homes, and covers houses, flats and apartments. EcoHomes balances environmental performance with the need for a high quality of life and a safe and healthy internal environment. Many of the issues are optional, ensuring EcoHomes is flexible enough to be tailored to a particular development or market. EcoHomes assessments can be carried out at both the design stage or post construction for new build and major refurbishment projects.

In April 2007 the Code for Sustainable Homes replaced EcoHomes for the assessment of new housing in England. EcoHomes 2006 will continue to be used for refurbished housing in England and for all housing in Scotland and Wales.


‘BREEAM’ is a registered trademark of BRE (the Building Research Establishment Ltd. Community Trade Mark E5778551). The BREEAM marks, logos and symbols are the Copyright of BRE and are reproduced by permission.