Good environmental performance and sustainability are important elements in modern development projects. Careful planning is essential to ensure that the requirements are met in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Therefore sustainability should be considered in an early stage of the project with the support of a sustainability expert. In response to client and industry calls for a formal recognition of specialist skills in design of more sustainable buildings BRE Global has introduced a new BREEAM Accredited Professionals (or BREEAM AP) qualification.

To strengthen the case for including a sustainability expert on the design team, the latest iteration of BREEAM 2008, published in May 2009, now recognizes the importance of the early increment of a sustainability specialist on development projects and awards credits for doing so. Up to two innovation credits are available when a BREEAM Accredited Professional is designated as early as RIBA Stage B or equivalent. To be eligible for the first credit relating to the appointment of a BREEAM AP there are a number of further specific requirements:

  • At the end of the stage in which the design brief is established (for instance RIBA stage B) the BREEAM performance target needs to be agreed. It is also a requirement that the agreed BREEAM performance target will be met at the design stage and post construction stage evaluations.
  • The BREEAM AP must be given the opportunity to attend key design team meeting held from the start of RIBA B up to the end of RIBA stage E and the AP should receive the minutes of all meetings.
  • A design stage assessment report must be submitted to BRE for formal certification.
  • The BREEAM AP should complete a pre-assessment report no later than at RIBA stage B or equivalent.

A further credit can be awarded when the involvement of the BREEAM AP is extended to include the entire project cycle until the practical completion of the project.

Although not a strict requirement, it should be considered good practice to consult the BREEAM AP when setting the performance target. Sometimes a performance target is already set, for instance through an internal policy. This is typically the case for governmental departments or government sponsored projects. In other instances a target is set by the local planning authority as part of their planning policies. In most circumstances, although setting the target is part of the wider negotiations about the financing of the project and its commercial liability. The accredited professional should base there advice on a thorough analysis of the general sustainability requirements, the opportunities and constraints. Carrying out a BREEAM pre-assessment estimation is a useful tool in testing the implications of setting a particular BREEAM performance level.

It is clear that there are some key advantages in appointing a BREEAM Accredited Professional at an early stage of a real estate development project. As an integral part of the planning and design team this expert should have the following role:

  • Analysis the sustainability requirements, opportunities and constraints
  • Advise on the implications of setting the performance target at the various BREEAM levels
  • Provide general advise on sustainable design and construction
  • Co-ordinate the input of technical specialists, such as accousticians and ecologists
  • Prepare sustainable design action plan
  • Co-ordinate the preparation of evidence supporting the BREEAM assessment