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BREEAM Brings Competition to the US Green Building Certification Market

EmmamHowe MA, United States 0 Ratings 13 Discussions 8 Group posts

Posted by: EmmamHowe // Marketing/Green Policy Development

BREEAM, the leading UK green-building rating system, has recently crossed the pond, looking to take on its US counterpart LEED in the market for green building. Over the last 24 years, the international Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology, BREEAM, has been working hard to certify buildings throughout the UK. It has completed more than 542,868 certifications and has more than 2.2 million registered buildings spanning across 77 countries. But now BREEAM is entering the U.S. market, bringing with it potential competition for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED.

BuildingWise, a US-based LEED certification consultancy, is providing BRE with a platform on which to further develop BREEAM in the USA, where the focus will be on the BREEAM In-Use standard, addressing the 5.6 million existing commercial buildings in the US that are not currently benchmarking their sustainability efforts using a “scientifically-based green building certification” such as LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED EB).

The BREEAM-in-Use program, which is currently being applied in 25 countries, begins when an owner brings an existing building into the system by answering a series of questions about the building’s assets, operations, and occupants. Each category is subdivided into a range of issues (such as how much energy tenants consume), which promotes the use of new benchmarks, aims, and targets. The building is then given an unverified score, and the owner can then choose to make improvements and retain an independent assessor to verify the owner’s claims.

BREEAM USA’s goal is to provide a simple option for existing building owners, and at least get them started on the road toward certification. LEED’s performance targets—which include an Energy Star rating of 75 or higher, and meeting ASHRAE’s 62.1 standard for air quality and its 90.1 standard for energy consumption—are qualifications that many existing buildings cannot meet without extensive and time-consuming renovation or rebuilding. BREEAM, on the other hand, does not have these kinds of prerequisites, but rather seeks to establish a building’s performance achievements and then take them on a pathway to improvement. In the past, some building professionals and owners have voiced disapproval about the complexity of LEED’s required paperwork, and the cost of its certification process. BREEMAM USA seeks to counteract those criticisms by emphasizing that their points of entry will be more open to everyone.

It sounds like BREEAM In-Use may well drum up some healthy competition in the US green building certification market. Taking into account the amounts of energy, water and materials that buildings and their occupants consume, all of which currently involve vast consumption of fossil fuels, this could become a significant development. It’s very difficult to argue against improving the environmental performance of several hundred thousand more buildings. By having both LEED and BREEAM USA in place, companies and consumers who aspire to “go green” and get certified will have more opportunities to do so, therefore expanding the green building community and network throughout the United States.

You can read more about LEED and BREEAM USA here:



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