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25 Sep 2017

Get On & Keep Pedalling! Team BREEAM is proud support WGBW #OurHeroIsZero. Chris Ward and James Fisher of BREEAM report.

As we all join together collectively to applaud our Zero Hero pedalling hard towards to finish line at net zero (and doing all we can to support them!), it is also worth reflecting on the hard work that the teams of architects, engineers, asset managers, BREEAM Assessors and design consultants have been doing in the background for many years now to support the team ambition. After all, Sir Bradley Wiggins would be the first to acknowledge that although he may be the one to cross the line, he couldn’t do it all without his huge army of experts behind him.

‘I see sustainability in a similar way’, says Kerri-Emma Dobson, a Technical Consultant based at BREEAM HQ. ‘Built environment sustainability is an individual team sport if you know what I mean, you need the determination of one multiplied by the commitment of many to make a difference. This is something that BREEAM know all about.’

BREEAM has been driving reductions in building energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions since the first scheme was launched in 1990. While BREEAM’s energy assessment methodology has evolved over the years to account for changes in regulation and best practice, including the implementation of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the fundamental principle has remained unchanged – to reward whole building energy performance that goes beyond minimum regulatory performance requirements and/or standard industry practice, with increasing numbers of credits awarded to buildings that achieve progressively larger reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Since 2008, additional exemplary level credits have been available for demonstrating zero carbon performance. Since 2011, BREEAM has used a ‘triple metric’ approach to awarding energy credits based on a building’s performance against energy demand and primary energy parameters, in addition to the CO2 emissions parameter that has always been assessed. Chris Ward, Principal Technical Consultant within BREEAM explains, ‘this approach encourages a fabric first approach to design by ensuring fabric performance is considered before seeking to meet any demand as efficiently as possible, through the primary energy metric, and finally offsetting CO2 emissions where possible through the installation of low or zero carbon technologies. This is definitely the only way round to do it, any other approach can lead to inconsistencies in reporting and comparison of data.’

A recent analysis of assessment data showed that BREEAM New Construction assessed buildings achieve an average 22% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to regulatory baseline performance (see Assessing Carbon Emissions in BREEAM). The analysis also showed a clear link between the CO2 emissions savings and the overall BREEAM rating, with higher BREEAM ratings seeing a steady increase in CO2 emission reductions.

The current BREEAM energy performance methodology strongly aligns with the zero carbon agenda and encourages buildings to aspire to this level of design performance. BREEAM has definitely been transformative in its contribution towards built asset carbon emissions. The assessment of energy and carbon emissions in BREEAM will continue to evolve to ensure that the assessment methodologies remain technically robust and relevant, including a greater focus on assessing ‘unregulated’ energy and addressing the ‘performance gap’ between predicted and actual performance.

If the performance gap is keeping you awake at night, then it’s time to think about registering your asset with BREEAM In-Use so you can track the performance of your building, ensuring that it is managed and operated in the best way every day. ‘Real Estate investors all over Europe are seeing the benefit of this high value BREEAM product with simple payback stories that would prick the ears of many a CFO’, says James Fisher, Existing Buildings Lead in BREEAM. ‘BREEAM In-Use has been designed to make every day buildings better for the huge volume of non-domestic assets globally but it works for net zero too. After all, when you are down in the margins of net zero a slight tweak to the operation of an asset can make a huge difference to the result’.

Without wanting to use too many sporting metaphors, Team BREEAM is with you in this challenge and with a little more collaboration we can get there. Go team, go Zero Hero, we can do this!

Don’t miss our FREE World Green Building Week webinar on Wednesday 27th  September, 12.30pm (UK time) – BREEAM New Construction 2018: Tackling the Energy Performance Gap

Simon Guy
About the Author
Marketing Lead - Property & Real Estate

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