How do you arrange a sustainability certification (BREEAM) for your project?

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Demi-Jo Smith, July 7, 2022

Sustainable construction is a hot topic. And rightly so, because if you don’t do it out of corporate social responsibility, you are forced to do it by legislation and regulations. For example, according to European legislation, from 2020 upon, only sustainable homes may be built. Buyers and tenants are also becoming increasingly demanding in terms of sustainability. So if you build sustainably, you want to be able to demonstrate that to the outside world. At the same time, you don’t want extra work – after all, you’re busy enough as it is. So how do you arrange sustainability certification for your projects and why would you want it? We looked into it for you.

placing solar panels to obtain BREEAM certification
Sustainability is important in construction.

Which sustainability certificates are there?

There are many different sustainability certifications, such as LEED and WELL. One of the best known sustainability certifications is the BREEAM certificate. BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. This method is used in more than 80 countries worldwide and has been the hallmark for a sustainably built environment since 2009. BREEAM provides insight into the sustainability performance of a project. Not only in the field of energy, but much more broadly. The certification assesses projects on ten categories: management, health & wellbeing, transport, water, materials, energy, ecology, pollution, land use and waste. For each criterion, a certain score, expressed as a percentage, can be achieved. The higher the percentages per criterion, the higher the total score. The highest achievable result is the predicate ‘outstanding’. This indicates that a total score of over 85% has been achieved.

Building sustainably also brings financial benefits.

Why do you want a sustainability certificate?

You are a professional and do everything to make your projects as sustainable and safe as possible. From the perspective of social entrepreneurship, for legislation and regulations and because the market demands it. A sustainable project is future-proof and more attractive to tenants or buyers. Sustainable construction also provides financial benefits, because you save on energy costs and can qualify for certain subsidies. An overview of all subsidies can be found on the national government’s website. A building with a BREAAM certificate also creates a healthy working or living environment. And that in turn ensures higher productivity and more residential pleasure for the building users. 

The benefits of a BREEAM certification

  • BREEAM is an international certification and the most widely used sustainability label in the world. So you never have to explain its value.
  • A certificate contributes to your green image. It shows that you take sustainability seriously. 
  • You increase the value and popularity of the property. Tenants or buyers like to live in a sustainable building.
  • Financial advantage: you save on energy costs and are eligible for subsidies. 
  • BREEAM requirements are stricter than the current legislation. The buildings you build are therefore ready for the future!

By engaging the right experts, you can start the journey towards your sustainability certificate.

How to obtain a BREAAM certification? 

Obtaining certification can be quite an undertaking. But it does not have to be. Especially when you have your affairs in order, it is just a matter of collecting and submitting evidence. By using quality assurance software, you always have an up-to-date insight into and overview of your projects and the performance of your buildings. Such software packages allow you to make quality inspections with digital forms and manage your blueprints, forms and other information easily and, above all, well. This information also helps you to obtain certification more easily. With the help of the right experts, you can start the journey towards your sustainability certification. 

Step 1: define your goal and find a BREEAM Expert

Step one is to determine which quality mark you are going for. There are different BREEAM labels; BREEAM New Construction for -you guessed it- new buildings, BREEAM  In-Use for (non-residential) existing buildings, BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-Out for refurbishing projects, BREEAM Community for complete community development and CEEQUAL for infrastructure related projects. Once you have determined your focus, it is important to meet the requirements. To this end it is important to call in a BREEAM expert to advise you and guide you through the entire certification process. You can have an employee trained as a BREEAM expert yourself, but you can also call in an external expert. There are numerous agencies that specialise in this area.  

Step 2: complete the dossier

Now it is a matter of having all the requested evidence complete. The quality assurance software you use will help you do this. Digital tools make file management smarter, easier and clearer. This makes it easy for the BREEAM expert to collect the evidence. All evidence of your project’s sustainability performance is collected and stored in the BREEAM assessment tool. In this tool you can also perform a free Quick Scan to map the overall performance of your project.

Step 3: Project submission and assessment

When your dossier is complete, you call in a BREEAM Assessor. This is an independent expert who will check the file compiled by the BREEAM Assessor on the basis of the label’s criteria. This check is compulsory in order to obtain your certificate. The assessor therefore needs a licence. Again, you can have your own employee trained as an assessor, but you can also engage an external assessor.

Step 4: Almost there

Once the BREEAM Assessor has assessed and approved the project, the information will be submitted to the BREEAM certification body.

Step 5: Show it off!

Congratulations, you now have a BREEAM certificate. You have worked hard for this, so of course you are proud. The certificate shows that you build sustainably and safely. All the more reason to proudly display the certificate!