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Query: Does BREEAM really deliver a sustainable building to a client?

by Mel Starrs on November 5, 2009


I often get requests from students for help with dissertations (and this blog suffers from a fall in readers during the summer recess, so hello and thanks to all the students reading!). This one particularly stood out and was in response to my post BREEAM is a means to an end. Anthony makes some good points and I would be fascinated to hear what others think. Let’s have a little crowdsourcing and see if we can arrive at a consensus (or at least collate some good resources). My initial comment is that the first objective alone would encompass enough material to explore in a dissertation – the scope is certainly ambitious! So, read the request below and add comments where appropriate:

Dear Mel (and anyone else who picks this up)

I am an MSc Student preparing to write a Dissertation on “BREEAM is it worth it and does its careful design and implementation help or hinder the construction process” I have found reference to your BREAM on your website and was wondering if you still had the same thought and whether or not you cuold share some of them with me in relation to my dissertion outlined below,I would be most grateful for your thoughts and ides.

The Proposed Project:

The author is a consultant working for a University, managing an Enhanced Health and Safety/Construction Design and Management (CDM) Service. The University have a large scale building and refurbishment programme where one of their key objectives is to achieve an excellent rating on the British Research Establishments Environmental Assessment Model (BREEAM) for new builds and very good for refurbishments. As the CDM Co-ordinator (CDMC) the author has coordinated the design and construction of numerous multimillion pound projects where BREEAM has been successfully implemented. However in the opinion of others on the design team, it has been very difficult to achieve the required points.

It is the author’s opinion that the Clients desire for a sustainable property portfolio is driven by pressure from higher education funding bodies such as HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) who, prior to the release of funds will scrutinise the applicant for its green credentials.

The principle behind this paper is to ascertain if effective design and planning actually improves sustainability, safety and quality on projects or is the client being driven by public perception and corporate and social responsibilities and ultimately paying a high price for a building they cannot effectively manage!

Provisional Overall aim of the Project:

The overall aim of the project is to establish if implementing BREEAM is actually worth the time, money and whether design and execution of sustainable building techniques helps or hinders the construction process.

Specific Research Objectives:

The aim of the following objectives will assist in either proving or disproving if the provisional aim of the project is true or false. It is envisaged that the objectives listed below will be translated into questions for use within the questionnaire.

– To confirm if a sustainable building is what the Client actually wants or if the are they being forced into the process by outside factors such as planning authorities and funding bodies?

– To ascertain, roughly, who much additional costs does the implementation of BREEAM place on a construction project?

– Does the “Green Guide to Construction” interlace with BREEAM and modern building techniques?

– To establish if there is a correlation between the installations of highly technical equipment and an increase in construction site accidents due to an aging workforce.

As previously mentioned your assistance on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards

Anthony Heaton-Jones

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