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BREEAM 2008 vs LEED 2009 – Detailed credit breakdown

by Mel Starrs on January 19, 2010

in BREEAM versus LEED

This follow up post is for those who are familiar with BREEAM and have some knowledge of the credit numberings and weightings for both schemes. If you need to refer to the manuals the BREEAM manual can be found here and the LEED manual can be found here.

If you are just looking for an overview, try the first post in this series here.

I start with a brief overview of LEED 2009 scoring and prerequisites.

Then I look at the main differences and significant similarities in LEED 2009 from BREEAM 2008.

I finish with the weightings which are now within LEED – a significant change between v2 and 2009 which brings it much more in line with BREEAM.

LEED 2009

LEED 2009 replaced LEED 2.0 from 27 April 2009. All discussion which follows refers to LEED-NC (new construction). There are small differences for the other schemes.

Unlike BREEAM, LEED is a points rather than percentage system. There are 100 base points, 6 possible Innovation in Design and 4 Regional Priority points.

LEED rating points
Certified 40-49
Silver 50-59
Gold 60-79
Platinum 80 points and above


LEED introduced prerequisites before BREEAM’s mandatory credits. Prerequisites are mandatory for all ratings.

Sustainable Sites

  • SSP1 – Construction Activity Pollution Prevention

Water Efficiency

  • WE1 – Water Use Reduction

Energy and Atmosphere

  • EAP1 – Fundamental Commissioning of Building Energy Systems
  • EAP2 – Minimum Energy Performance
  • EAP3 – Fundamental Refrigerant Management

Materials and Resources

  • MRP1 – Storage and Collection of Recyclables

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • EQP1 – Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance
  • EQP2 – Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control

Sustainable Sites

SS1 forbids development on farmland, wetlands and within 50 feet of a water body. BREEAM has no equivalent (but these may be covered elsewhere within UK legislation).

SS2 requires development density calculations which BREEAM does not. There are similarities in the types of services (bank, shops, post office, etc) which the development is rewarded for being near.

SS3 (brownfield development) is considerably easier to achieve than LE2 (contaminated land).

The transport credits in LEED are considerably less onerous than the BREEAM equivalents. For example, a 300,00ft² office building would require 95 cycle spaces under BREEAM, but only 36 under LEED. LEED rewards specific parking for LEV and FEV or for an LEV sharing scheme. There is no current equivalent under BREEAM, but there is the opportunity to propose this as an innovation credit.

SS5.2 promotes a high proportion of open space to encourage biodiversity. There is no BREEAM equivalent.

SS7.1 and 7.2 refer to heat island effect which BREEAM does not cover, although green roofs are rewarded (for different reasons) under LE 4, LE 5, LE 6 and Pol 5.

Water Efficiency

WEP1 looks at water use reduction against a baseline, rather than setting an absolute target like BREEAM.

WE1 looks at irrigation which is included as Wat 6 in some BREEAM schemes, but not currently in BREEAM Offices 2008.

WE2 relates to BREEAM credit Wat 5, recycling, which is again not included in BREEAM Offices 2008.

In BREEAM there are 3 credits which reward specific design solutions or technologies, namely water meters, sanitary supply shut-off and major leak detection. LEED tends not to dictate design solutions, focussing instead on the intention (i.e. water use reduction).

Energy & Atmosphere

EAP2 requires the building to be designed to ASHRAE 90.1. This is more onerous than designing to CIBSE standards and UK Building Regulations, and there is no BREEAM equivalent. However, by designing to this standard, there is no need to specifically require technologies or design solutions, in the same way that BREEAM does. It gives designers more discretion.

EAP3 relates to refrigeration and is covered in the EU by legislation.

EA1 is roughly equivalent to Ene 1. However there are 2 key differences – it is stated in terms of improvement over a baseline in energy, rather than a target carbon amount, and is also stated in terms of COST of energy. This is also the case for EA2 which looks at renewable and is roughly equivalent to Ene 5.

There is a total of 11.85% available for BREEAM Offices 2008 Ene 1 for a zero carbon building (which relates to Building Regulation Part L calculations). The maximum number of points available under LEED is 19 for a 48% improvement on energy performance calculated from Appendix G baseline from ASHRAE 90.1-2007. Points are very roughly equivalent to 0.9%, so a maximum 17% in LEED for a very good low energy building versus almost 12% for a zero carbon building seems better value! The calculations are more onerous for ASHRAE than for Part L.

The other main difference in LEED is that Green Power is rewarded, whereas in BREEAM contracts with green energy suppliers is not rewarded.

Materials & Resources

MRP1 relates to storage for recyclable waste. This is similar to BREEAM but the areas required are much greater – almost double at smaller floor areas and 1.5 times as large at higher floor areas.

LEED generally deals in percentage improvements rather than absolute values. This applies to the reuse of materials too. There are a number of additional credits to BREEAM where items such as rapidly renewable materials, local materials and reuse of interior elements are rewarded.

Rather than focus on an accreditation scheme and chain of paperwork (which Mat 5 in BREEAM now uses), the intentions are stated and it is up to the assessor and design teams discretion to ensure compliance is met.

There is still a focus in both schemes for rewarded recycling rather than reducing waste in the first place.

Indoor Environmental Quality

IEQP1 relates to ASHRAE 62.1. There is no BREEAM equivalent as minimum ventilation rates are covered by Building Regulations.

IEQ1, IEQ2, IEQ3 and IEQ5 are quite sophisticated and beyond any current UK requirements. BREEAM does not reward well designed mechanically ventilated systems. If a building requires mech vent, LEED may well be the better accreditation to go for.

IEQ7.1 requires ability to measure post-occupancy thermal comfort. This is far and beyond BREEAM or CIBSE, but is picked up in BSRIA’s soft landing framework.

IEQ8 covers daylight and is similar in scope but uses a different methodology to BREEAM.


Whilst LEED does not convert points into a percentage in the same way that BREEAM does, there was a considerable change in allocation of points per credit between LEED 2.0 and LEED 2009 which means there is now an implicit weighting. As this article points out, the new credit weightings heavily favor urban projects.

Comparing the weightings per credits for LEED 2.0 vs. LEED 2009

Credit LEED 2.0 Points LEED 2009 Points
SSP1 1 1
SS1 1 1
SS2 1 5
SS3 1 1
SS4.1 1 6
SS4.2 1 1
SS4.3 1 3
SS4.4 1 2
SS5.1 1 1
SS5.2 1 1
SS6.1 1 1
SS6.2 1 1
SS7.1 1 1
SS7.2 1 1
SS8 1 1
WEP1 (WE3.1) 1 1
WE1 (WE1.1-2) 2 2-4
WE2 1 2
WE3 (WE3.2) 1 2-4
EAP1 1 1
EAP2 1 1
EAP3 1 1
EA1 8 1-19
EA2 3 1-7
EA3 1 2
EA4 1 2
EA5 1 3
EA6 1 2
MRP1 1 1
MR1.1 (MR1.1-2) 2 1-3
MR1.2 (MR1.3)1 1
MR2 (MR2.1-2) 2 1-2
MR3 (MR3.1-2) 2 1-2
MR4 (MR4.1-2) 2 1-2
MR5 (MR5.1-2) 2 1-2
MR6 1 1
MR7 1 1
IEQP1 1 1
IEQP2 1 1
IEQ1 1 1
IEQ2 1 1
IEQ3.1 1 1
IEQ3.2 1 1
IEQ4.1 1 1
IEQ4.2 1 1
IEQ4.3 1 1
IEQ4.4 1 1
IEQ5 1 1
IEQ6.1 1 1
IEQ6.2 1 1
IEQ7.1 1 1
IEQ7.2 1 1
IEQ8.1 1 1
IEQ8.2 1 1
ID1 4 1-5
ID2 1 1
RP n/a 1-4
69 110