BREEAM certification offers a holistic approach to sustainable building design, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental impacts of buildings throughout their lifecycle.

The importance of BREEAM In-Use and the certification is growing due to the natural environment being impacted greatly by the expansion of our cities. Not to mention, many of the world’s limited resources are used up in the production and operation of the buildings in which we live and work.

In light of this, green building, also known as sustainable design, is the process of improving the effectiveness with which buildings and their locations use energy, water, and materials. Green buildings also aim to lower their impact on human health and the environment throughout a building’s entire existence. Beyond the confines of buildings, green building principles also apply to the site, community, and land-use planning concerns.

Fortunately, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology or BREEAM certification offers a solution to these and other land-use issues.

What is the BREEAM certification and how does it work?

The Building Research Establishment Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a leading approach that ensures buildings meet sustainable construction, operation, and design standards. You may use it to evaluate both renovation projects and new developments.

BREEAM certification provides a roadmap for achieving sustainable and cost-effective building design, ensuring a reduced carbon footprint and long-term operational savings.” – Dr. Erik Wallin, founder, and chief ecosystem officer at ProptechOS.

BREEAM Certification In-Use

Certifying existing buildings in Sweden and throughout the world is possible with BREEAM In-Use. The certification evaluates the construction through an independent and reliable assessment.

BREEAM evaluates a building’s performance on a wide range of environmental factors and assigns it one of the following grades:

  • Pass
  • Good
  • Very Good
  • Excellent
  • Outstanding

Origin and History

BREEAM is a voluntary green building sustainability grading system. It was developed in the United Kingdom to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings.

BRE Global developed BREEAM and introduced it in the U.K. in 1990. It helped pave the way for more environmentally friendly built environment design and construction. BREEAM also played a key role in reducing the significant environmental harm caused by the global construction industry.

BREEAM is a technique to evaluate the degree to which built environment projects align with a set of precise and scientifically sound sustainability goals. It also provides a method to convey this information to clients. This way, the BREEAM certification is similar to other green certification systems.

The approach works by having a third party verify a project’s sustainability performance. An unaffiliated assessor with BRE Global evaluates the project. This assessor ensures the project receives approval from several organizations. This approach provides quality assurance.

The program has been adopted outside of the UK in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands. Its intrinsic focus on sustainable design has helped produce a considerably greener-built environment. 

The Purpose of the BREEAM Certificate

The rate of urbanization around the world is at its highest point ever. The built environment significantly affects climate change, producing almost 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Through early design and planning stages, construction, and the building’s life span, environmental assessment methodologies like BREEAM strive to lessen the impact of buildings on the environment.

BREEAM assesses a building’s sustainability level and its advantages to the stakeholders involved in its life cycle. The assessment considers factors such as the economy, environment, and society.

8 Areas of Evaluation

Implementing BREEAM standards contributes to several of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. These goals are designed to foster a better and more sustainable future on a global scale. The objectives of the BREEAM certification include eight distinct areas of evaluation:

  • Ecology
  • Energy and Water Use
  • Internal environment (health and well-being)
  • Management processes
  • Materials
  • Pollution
  • Transport
  • Waste

BREEAM Rating System

A project’s performance and the performance of its stakeholders are evaluated against the BREEAM standard and its benchmarks to determine whether or not the project should be awarded a BREEAM-certified rating. The rating makes it possible to compare different projects and assurances on the asset’s performance, quality, and value.

The BREEAM ratings range from Unclassified through Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, and Outstanding, and these grades are reflected on the BREEAM certification as a sequence of stars.

  • Unclassified: the rating is less than 30%
  • Pass: the rating is more than 30%
  • Very Good: the rating is more than 55%
  • Excellent: the rating is higher than 70%
  • Outstanding: the rating is higher than 85%

Benefits of BREEAM-Certified Buildings for building owners and developers

The importance of BREEAM certification is rising for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Health benefits
  • Environmental benefits


Efficiency in heating systems, reduced water consumption, and energy-efficient lighting is all considered during a BREEAM assessment. Over time, this will lower the expenses of maintaining and renovating buildings.

Health Benefits

The social aspect of ESG covers a broad range of factors that can influence a building’s overall social impact and well-being. This includes factors such as community engagement, labor practices, employee well-being, and more.

For BREEAM-rated buildings, considering the social impact is particularly important because buildings are not just physical structures but also important components of the communities they serve.

BREEAM-rated buildings offer a wide range of health benefits over conventional ones, including:

  • Increased safety
  • Access to daylight and other amenities
  • The capacity to manage comfort levels
  • Greater thermal and acoustic comfort
  • Better accessibility

Dr. Erik Wallin explains further, by prioritizing health and well-being, BREEAM certification can help create socially responsible buildings that not only promote productivity and satisfaction but also contribute to a healthier and safer society.

Environmental Benefits

Last but not least, BREEAM has contributed to putting more emphasis on development strategies that are focused on environmental concerns such as:

  • Minimizing construction waste
  • Figuring out how to cut CO2 emissions
  • Improving the environment for wildlife in the region

Other types of sustainable building certifications: LEED vs. BREEAM

While both LEED and BREEAM are accepted worldwide, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It has a primary focus adapted to suit the North American market. BREEAM is a British-developed building environmental assessment method focused on European legislation.

The primary distinction between the two systems is that BREEAM awards accreditation through the employment of certified assessors. In contrast, LEED relies on the design team of the building to provide information for USGBC processing. While LEED thresholds are based on percentages and thus are regarded as more straightforward, BREEAM uses quantitative, more structured, and academic requirements.

Successful BREEAM-Certified buildings with ProptechOS

Property owners want to minimize operating expenses while enhancing tenant security and comfort. Proptech provides building management solutions that can make a building smart by integrating facility systems using IoT technology and managing them from a single location. This option enables property owners to discover untapped potential.

Summary of the BREEAM Standard

Building sustainability measures have become a crucial component of the decision-making process for modern investors. For several reasons, BREEAM certification is becoming more and more significant. This is due to an increasing number of local authority mandates and several social, community, health, and economic benefits.

BREEAM certification is a valuable tool for property developers and owners to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, and to meet the growing demand for green buildings among tenants and investors.

ProptechOS believes BREEAM can help lessen the damaging consequences of building and development on the environment. Contact ProptechOS to talk about the possibilities for your next project today.