Green buildings: Greater focus on climate adaptation and mitigation in updated BREEAM standard

Leading sustainable buildings standard BREEAM has been given its most significant update in five years, with a greater onus placed on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, as well as the social value delivered by new developments.

The Building Research Establishment (BRE), which manages the popular BREEAM standard, announced ths week that version six of the BREEAM guidelines for both commercial and residential buildings expands the manual for benchmarking and certifying existing residential assets and incorporates a new ‘Resilience’ category focused on managing climate changes impacts.

BRE said the new Resilience category would integrate environmental performance and occupant health and wellbeing measures, meaning the updated standard would consider past environmental performance of a building as well as encouraging enhanced performance in future.

Social impacts have also been more closely woven into the new standard in order to reflect the social and economic benefits of meeting green objectives, BRE said.

“This encourages assets to see that asset resilience and overall sustainability are deeply connected to the resilience and sustainability of the communities in which they are located, including direct references to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” it explained. “The Materials and Waste categories have also been combined into a single Resource category. BREEAM is the first rating system to incorporate these elements, alongside Environmental Performance, into a single platform with a focus on existing buildings.”

The update comes off the back of a review of latest building research, best practices, and standards, as well as consultation with BRE stakeholders, the research body said.

“One of the most significant changes with this update was to pivot BREEAM from not just looking back at past environmental performance but looking towards protecting the asset’s environmental and financial performance in the future,” said Shamir Ghumra, BREEAM director. “This linking of asset value growth and protection and environmental performance has always existed in BREEAM, but our changing world made it imperative that it was addressed more intentionally. The current situation we’re also subjected to underlines that sustainability and a focus on environmental, social and governance performance is now more crucial than ever.”

The update came as a new set of decarbonisation pathways for the global real estate sector was publicly launched yesterday by the EU-funded Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CCREM) project new alongside tools to help firms in the industry identify and manage transition risks.

The pathways – which identify annual energy and carbon intensity trajectories for real estate markets through to 2050 that are consistent with delivering less than 2C of global warming – are designed to help real estate firms meet the climate risk recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs), CCREM explained.

And in further green building news, the UK trade association for liquid petroleum gas (LPG) – Liquid Gas UK – has called for revisions to the methodology for assessing homes Energy Performance Certificates (EPC).

At present, it said, the methodology favours higher carbon heating solutions such as heating oil for households over more energy efficient and lower carbon options, including heat pumps and LPG.

“No other European country includes input fuel costs as part of their methodology,” argued George Webb, chief executive of Liquid Gas UK. “By simply removing the input fuel cost, we can encourage off-grid homeowners to move away from heating oil in favour of fuels and technologies that are cleaner, such as LPG and bioLPG which sets them up for a hassle-free transition to Net Zero.”



Source :

May 13, 2020