(Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology)
With BREEAM ratings now driving the sustainability of building right across the UK, the good news is that getting an 'excellent' rating has become more commonplace than ever before.)
The industry needs to continue to champion BREEAM ratings. It mustn't let itself get jaded as we do need some sort of standard to work towards and BREEAM remains one of the most comprehensive methods of assessment available to-date.
The danger is that when things become commonplace or, indeed, a bit of a 'catch all', we have a tendency towards complacency. Sustainability, however, still needs its driver and, for that reason alone, we should all stay behind BREEAM.
As higher BREEAM ratings become more achievable, fit out companies should be lining up to achieve BREEAM rating, regardless of size and scale, as there is so much that can be done, on all levels, to get some point of recognition. It's great that it's widely recognized as more achievable - our job now is to keep it at the fore.
Don't forget that the scope for BREEAM is huge, from retaining a building's original features and preserving its history to using new, energy-efficient lighting and glazing. BREEAM also covers what resources you are able to supply to help the building's users to take a greener approach, ie. providing bicycle storage for staff and installing recycling points throughout premises are all winning solutions.
The key is to consider points of sustainability, such as low carbon and low impact design, early on in the design stages. Considerations that have worked well for some of our clients include providing green walls where there is redundant space or as a feature in reception areas; waterless urinals and low flush toilets; landscaped gardens as an internal feature and the use of biofuel sourced from locally collected and refined agricultural resources eg, waste vegetable oil.
Now that the rating of 'excellent' is more readily attainable, there's more reason than ever to give BREEAM a go. Make sure you give some thought to what can be achieved from the outset and what is truly deliverable within the budget. Remember, the smallest things can make a difference and the criteria is extremely broad so there is plenty of room for manoeuver and plenty of boxes you will probably be able to tick to make the grade as you go along.