Construction Technology/News

Meet BREEAM, America’s Newest Green Building Certification


The BREEAM green building standard for new construction is coming to the U.S. Learn what this means for the construction industry.

If you work in construction, you’re most likely familiar with LEED certification, the green building standard that many building owners aim to achieve. Viewpoint’s Portland headquarters is a LEED Gold building, so we’re certainly familiar with the goals of those who want to achieve green building certification, as well as the challenges along the way.

While LEED is well-known in the United States, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) standards first developed in the United Kingdom are less familiar. But that could soon change.

The BREEAM certification process was developed in 1990 and uses a rating system to assess building sustainability in a variety of categories. According to the U.K.’s Building Research Establishment (BRE), BREEAM presents a more cost-effective and less time-consuming alternative to LEED certification. And now BRE is partnering with HOK, an American architecture, engineering and design firm, to launch a BREEAM standard for new construction in the United States in 2019.

Another new standard might feel like it’s adding to the laundry list of things contractors need to keep track of, but it’s important to know what kinds of certifications clients might want to achieve in the future. Keeping an eye on the upcoming standard and having the necessary tracking processes in place will help you prepare and stay ahead of the competition.

How BREEAM Certification Works

While new to the United States, BREEAM isn’t entirely unfamiliar to the architecture, engineering and construction community. BREEAM’s In-Use certification arrived in the U.S. in 2016, which allowed owners of existing buildings to assess their sustainability and achieve certifications. This standard may have affected a small number of contractors involved in sustainable renovation projects.

The introduction of a standard for new construction, however, could touch a much larger group of people in the construction industry.

So what does the BREEAM certification process entail? A licensed third-party BREEAM assessor evaluates a building to measure sustainable value in a variety of categories such as energy, materials, innovation, land use, pollution, waste and water. By achieving certain aims in each category, a building receives credits, which add up to an overall rating for the structure.

The standard is popular abroad, with more than 2 million registered BREEAM buildings in 77 countries. Contractors who are interested in what we might see in the United States can explore some of these projects.

Tools for Tracking Sustainable Construction Projects

Whether contractors need to closely track activities for BREEAM credits, LEED credits or other certifications, being organized is fundamental to delivering a completed project to a client that will allow them to meet their goals. Certifications like these tend to have strict requirements, so detailed information and a project that meets exact specifications is critical.

Construction management software that increases collaborative visibility during a project and enables detailed, organized tracking will help contractors get the job done right and help building owners earn desired sustainability ratings. Integrated, cloud-based construction software that connects your entire extended project team can improve communication and collaboration with suppliers, subcontractors, engineers and others who affect the project’s outcome. Document and compliance management features of these software packages make it easy to stay on top of project requirements, ensuring smoother workflows in both the office and on the jobsite. The end result is better-built, more profitable projects that meet or exceed industry standards.

Check out our new e-book, “A Practical Guide to Selecting Construction Software” to find a software solution that will help your contracting business stay organized and meet green building certifications. To learn more about connecting your extended project team during jobs, watch our recent webinar about our Viewpoint Team solution.