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BREEAM 2011 – coming soon.

by Mel Starrs on February 7, 2011


BREEAM 2011 is slated for issue in early March 2011 with the scheme going live in June 2011. As a precursor to the manual being issued (I suspect just after EcoBuild) a summary document was issued last week on the BREEAM website.

Until the manual is out, it would be a little early to start looking in detail at the credits (is it a bit sad that I want to get my hands on the spreadsheet so I can play with crunching the numbers?), so I’ll just do a broad overview of where schemes currently stand.
The big change is that BREEAM 2011 with be for new construction only (NC – hmm, I think I’ve seen that terminology before – converging with LEED, yet again).

Time for a quick yomp through the history of BREEAM, EcoHomes and CSH to set context here. Originally there was BREEAM (for Offices, mostly, at the time) and EcoHomes for housing. Both schemes could certify both new build and major refurb. The Code for Sustainable Homes was introduced for new build homes only in England and Wales. As this was a mandatory scheme EcoHomes for new build E&W was withdrawn, but it continued to be applied to both Scotland and refurbishment of homes. Currently BRE are running a pilot scheme for BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment. At my new job, we actually have a project which is on this pilot rather than EcoHomes, but as it’s a pilot I can’t really comment much more yet.

Scotland in the meantime are proposing introducing sustainability labelling into Building Regulations(pdf – Consultation document 1 Nov 2010), bypassing CSH altogether. I’m guessing this is what Grant Shapps has in store for England in 2013 (not sure what Wales will do as they’ll be fully devolved by then and are very much wedded to CSH and BREEAM).

So in effect EcoHomes will disappear, and we will have one standard for BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment. How this will tie in with Green Deal is yet to be seen.

So it makes sense, especially in the context of a Green Deal for non-domestic buildings, to have a separate BREEAM for refurbishment. This will be some time off yet though, and in the meantime there will be transitional arrangements, using BREEAM 2008. As I’m currently working on a large refurbishment project in the north east, I’ll be following this closely. The carrots and sticks surrounding fabric upgrade is fascinating (Part L1B and L2B not exactly either, BREEAM in this case a carrot and the effect on fuel costs hard (but by no means impossible) to quantify).

The other type of project which will not be covered by BREEAM 2011 is fit-out. Personally, I have not had too much experience in this field – it is the domain of specialist contractors. Because it is such a specialist activity, SKA rating was conceived within the niche and as such is highly relevant to fit-out activities in a way that BREEAM was never intended to be. Now owned by RICS (originally drafted by Skansen), it is increasingly gaining traction in the market and I most often get queries regarding it from interior designers. My money would be on some kind of collaboration between BREEAM and SKA in the future.

Back to the new BREEAM 2011. The biggest plus for me was the announcement that there will be a database on green book live of assessed and certified buildings along with their certified ‘life-cycle’ stage BREEAM rating. It isn’t clear if this will include legacy buildings but it is a step in the right direction of transparency (interestingly as I was writing this I tried to cut and paste from the pdf press release – it is protected. Seriously? In this day and age, for a press release you want people to be talking about and commenting on? Edit: this was an oversight on BRE’s part – all fixed now. For a horrible moment I thought we had fallen back to the bad old days when the BREEAM manual was a closely guarded secret, but no, we are back to normality. Phew). In fact, looking at green book live there is already a database of BREEAM In Use buildings, which I hadn’t spotted yet.

There are also changes afoot for BREEAM-AP. I will write more on this in March when I’ve been on the event day organised for AP’s. I have a half-written ranty draft in a folder waiting for publication. I have previously touched on some of my thoughts here.

Many more comments to be made in the next few weeks, but I will sound out some of my comments direct with BRE first.

  • Ed Bell

    Coming in from way off centre to your blog.I think the whole issue of what we build our sustainable houses on is being Building on lo cost land,eg. Brownfield sites, old agricutural land has ignored the need to identify the safety of the soil especially from carcinogenics(cancer causing), pesticides, heavy metals etc.
    The USA and indeed some parts of Europe(Germany,Sweden,Scotland) recognise the right of every citizen to know how safe their individual gardens(environment )is. In UK we consistently allow our Local Planners, Consultants, indeed even parts of EA and even RICS have in past turned a “blind eye” to new technology such as our Safe Soil Tester. Can i be so bold as to suggest you get the question of “soil” on your sustainability agenda so we don’t one day have to pull down perfectly safe building because of what they have been built on. A good example was the Littleport Estate, Cambs. where 37 (new-10 years old) houses had to have every garden and open areas dug up, down to two metres and replaced with clean safe soil in 2008
    Ed Bell
    Crown Bio Technology Ltd.
    Brunel Science Park,Uxbridge,Middx.

    Twitter; SafeSoilTester

  • Iain Fraser

    Hi Mel, thought I’d point out that the responses from the Scottish Government Consultation are in. And it’s not good news for the Scottish Building Standards Agency. Respondees have broadly slated the proposals. Read for yourself here:

  • Spurtles

    Not the sbsa for a while
    Now the bsd

  • Iain Fraser

    Ah, missed that re-branding. Thanks for putting me right.