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BREEAM introduced the role of the Sustainability Champion to UK building level schemes in 2014 with an aim to give project teams a ‘scheme-related’ expert who they can turn to for assistance during the assessment process. This expert is able to support a project team as they work towards their BREEAM target rating. The purpose of this is to allow project teams to enhance the consideration of sustainable design and construction throughout a project. and so, achieve greater sustainability in the built environment.

BREEAM defines a Sustainability Champion (SC) as:

“a trained and qualified individual, who provides BREEAM-related advice to the design team to facilitate timely and successful target setting, scheduling, prioritisation and monitoring of BREEAM compliance relating to the design of the building.”

In response to feedback from across the building design and procurement sector, a review of the Sustainability Champion role began in 2015 to identify alterations that could be made to evolve the role to make it more effective. The review gathered feedback on people’s understanding of the current role, their experience of the role and identified any information and activities, which could assist the Sustainability Champion during the BREEAM process. To support this, consultation activities ran between 2015 – 2017 and key feedback was collected and analysed. General outcomes of the review identified that the following was needed:

  • Clarification of the SC role and in particular its distinction from the Assessor and Associate roles
  • Rationalisation and clarification of the terminology used in the Technical Manual
  • Development of more specific and detailed role competencies
  • Clarification of training and CPD (continuing professional development) requirements
  • Further information about the overall value that an SC is able to contribute to a project.

Throughout 2017 and into 2018, a programme of update, amendment, development and dissemination has been implemented.  This is still ongoing, with the aim of addressing the points listed and related aspects as needed.

Some of the Key Changes Coming Soon

Rationalisation and Clarification of the Terminology

A key change is to the title of the role. The title is being changed from ‘Sustainability Champion’ to ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional’ to avoid current confusion over the number of titles currently used. This means that the roles that are currently recognised under the umbrella term ‘Sustainability Champion’ will be replaced with a single overarching title of ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional’, or ‘BREEAM AP’ for short. This covers existing:

  • ‘BREEAM Accredited Professionals’ who will automatically be qualified as BREEAM Advisory Professionals and will carry out their work under the title of ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional – Design and Site’
  • ‘BRE Site Sustainability Managers’ who will automatically be qualified as BREEAM Advisory Professionals and will carry out their work under the title ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional – Site’

All BREEAM Advisory Professional (design and/or site) will additionally be required to maintain CPD to continue to work in these respective areas.

Newly qualified BREEAM Advisory Professionals who qualify following the implementation of this new qualification, will have their area of expertise recognised by BREEAM as ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional – design’ or ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional – site’ or both. This indicates that their specific advisory focus is either on the design or on the construction stage of a project. Their advisory focus is indicated in their logo (as seen in figure 1).

Figure 1: The BREEAM Advisory Professional logos, depending on their specific advisory focus

Clarification of the SC role and how it relates to the Assessor role

The Role of the BREEAM Advisory Professional

As agreed during this phase of clarification, the role of the BREEAM AP is to contribute their detailed experience, knowledge and advice to the project team to facilitate:

  • Timely and successful BREEAM scheme related target-setting
  • Scheduling, prioritisation and monitoring of performance and non-compliance risk
  • Where appropriate and generally support achievement of a certified BREEAM rating.

BREEAM APs will provide value to the project by:

  1. Facilitating cross-project consideration and prioritisation of assessment issues throughout the decision-making process in a manner which is more integrated in the team structure and relevant to the project given the desired client outcome(s).
  2. Provide support and assistance to the client, design and construction teams in identifying and exploring options for achieving the desired sustainability and scheme-related outcomes; seeking solutions that are cost effective, value-added and relevant to the project’s circumstances and end-use.
  3. Provide support and assistance on the processes to smooth information gathering and communications with the assessor from within the delivery team.
  4. Collaborate with the project’s appointed licensed assessor and assist in the preparation and collation of project information and outputs for submission to them for the formal assessment and certification application.

Although there is some overlap between the BREEAM AP role and the BREEAM Assessor role (and both can be completed by the same individual), they both have their own distinct roles and responsibilities.

BREEAM Advisory Professional Detailed Role Competencies 

The role competencies have been developed to give individuals guidance on the skills needed to be successful in the AP role. Once these competencies have been demonstrated, the BREEAM Advisory Professional qualification is possible.

Virginia Cinquemani, Head of Strategic Relationships at BRE Academy says: ‘The review of the Sustainability Champion role was carried out to enhance the benefits of the role. The changes that have been made to the Sustainability Champion role, have been made to help clarify its purpose and responsibilities, to ensure the BREEAM process can be carried out as smoothly as possible. One large change is alterations to the AP CPD requirements. The updated CPD requirements not only test the individual’s knowledge and expertise of BREEAM and the building sector, but also tests for specific defined characteristics which are essential to be a successful Advisory Professional. An AP must have the experience and confidence to be able to engage with stakeholders and manage team meetings to facilitate decision-making to maximise the potential to achieve the target rating.’

BREEAM introduced the Sustainability Champion role to give project teams a ‘scheme-related’ expert who they can turn to for assistance.

The new role will include 5 core competencies. These include:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Benefits and drivers of BREEAM
  • Communication and influencing skills
  • Engagement and facilitation skills
  • Co-ordination and management skills

Alan Yates, BRE Global’s Technical Director of Sustainability says: ‘From carrying out the review of the Sustainability Champion role, we have a better understanding of how this is being perceived by project teams in the field who have first-hand involvement with the role. By learning of people’s experiences, we were able to identify areas of weakness and adapt the scheme so that the role is as beneficial and valuable as possible. The new and improved ‘Advisory Professional’ will be an individual that is heavily involved in individual projects, assisting the project teams to reach their final sustainability and BREEAM related goals.’

The transition to ‘BREEAM Advisory Professional’ is set to begin in Spring 2018. This will include:

  • The official use of the new terminology BREEAM Advisory Professional
  • Updated CPD requirements come into effect – the details of which will be communicated beforehand, and will only apply upon renewal of the individuals’ subscription
  • The availability of the BREEAM Advisory Professional marks / logos for use
  • Updates to Green book live
  • The new training course format, which will be delivered into blended learning modules and will cover the new competency criteria.

The changes taking place will not only clarify the role of the BREEAM AP within the BREEAM process, distinguishing it from the other roles including the assessor, but will also give clients the confidence to engage with APs, knowing that they can add significant value to their projects and support them in achieving the best possible sustainability outcomes.

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