A new qualification for assessors has been introduced by the leading UK sustainability standard for buildings, BREEAM, however some in the industry may be unaware as to the benefits this can bring to a project in terms of maximising credits needed for an accreditation.
Why engage the services of a BREEAM Accredited Professional (AP)? It comes down to their knowledge of the assessment process and their ability to bring BREEAM technical manual knowledge to the design and construction process. If they are engaged early in a project they can enable the discussion relating to credit compliance to be initiated, which crucially will help a project team to capture the credits which are only available at that stage.
The benefits brought by an AP to a project are not restricted to their early involvement however. Their technical knowledge of the BREEAM process combined with the consistent support they can provide throughout the journey towards attaining a targeted rating can be vital in ensuring the goals are met during the design and construction phases.
Credits where they’re due
If a BREEAM AP is appointed early enough, procedures and actions will be put in place incorporating materials, consultants, reports, and investigations to name a few, which all go towards credits. By contrast, design and build schemes where the AP is engaged too late and the specific actions and provisions have not been considered some of these credits will be unachievable. Certain credits are only awarded if actions are taken before certain RIBA stages of the design and construction; not having an AP involved means these thresholds will often be missed by design teams.
The BREEAM assessment also awards credits just for engaging the services of an AP on a project, and the earlier they are involved, the greater the amount of likely credits. Including an AP on the design team at Stage 1, i.e. the Preparation and Brief stage as defined by the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 ensures that the maximum amount of credits can be gained.
The AP can ensure that all credits available to the project team for actions/ meetings/consultations etc are discussed and actively sought or not sought, based on decisions made by the design team. The AP can ensure that all credits available to the project team for actions/ meetings/consultations etc are discussed and actively sought or not sought, based on decisions made by the design team. A potential money-saving benefit for projects is that by identifying a greater number of BREEAM credits available early in the process thanks to the presence of an AP, there is less pressure on achieving other credits later related to the design and fit-out of the building in order to achieve the desired rating.
In addition, achieving credits early on in the design process provides greater certainty that the required BREEAM score will be achieved, as there will be less reliance on post completion testing or build and workmanship performance standards.
An AP can also help to clarify project aims in terms of the build at an early stage in tender documentation outlining the expected credits, materials and processes. This will assist in sourcing of contractors who are familiar with the standards expected. Having this clarity at the start enables processes and procedures to be put in place early and any questions to be answered before starting on site.
An AP doesn’t have to be a Registered Assessor, but it helps
A BREEAM AP does not need to already be a registered assessor, however experience of the BREEAM assessment process and information is necessary for the AP to be able to assist effectively through the construction process. Ideally the AP should be involved throughout the construction process ensuring that action priorities are set, scheduled activities are completed, and that credit trade-offs are discussed and agreed to ensure that the project remains on track to achieve the desired BREEAM rating. A BREEAM AP will also attend design meetings more frequently throughout the construction process than an assessor. This enables the progress of the project to be discussed more frequently and progress made on site can be assessed as well as records and diaries can be checked throughout the construction programme.
Being a relatively new qualification, awareness of the importance of AP’s is not widespread and they are often engaged too late in the process. Not having the benefit of their in-depth technical knowledge on the design team can potentially mean that a project will miss out on the early credits which might enable a far easier progress towards its desired BREEAM rating.
Director, Darren Evans Assessments
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