July 3, 2008

To BREEAM or not...

Forgive the awful pun. But the new BREEAM 2008 guidance has been published today and I've been reading Mel's handy summary of what it all means. We're currently considering whether to go BREEAM Bespoke on a project that we're working on, so it is all rather timely.

I think most architects and services engineers have mixed feelings the BRE. From its origins as a government-funded body, since going private it seems to try to squeeze money out of every angle, while effectively operating a monopoly on green accreditation in the UK. The new guidance only seems to reinforce this when you read that to achieve the highest level of Outstanding, in addition to an 85% score you must have the project written up as a case study by BRE Global - and I'm sure that doesn't come for free.

In the case of our project, as it doesn't fall into one of the pre-existing categories we would need bespoke criteria drawn up. One might think that the BRE might like to have the invitation to expand their research base, and get to road-test criteria for another building type - but no, it will cost around £2-3,000 to get the criteria drawn up, and that's before you even start paying for the assessment process. And if you look at the criteria and decide not to go forward, it's just money down the drain.

Our arts client is absolutely serious about wanting to do the most environmentally responsible building they can given the brief and site - and they would really like to have a recognised accreditation to prove it. But when it looks like a BREEAM assessment would cost more than the acoustics fees, one starts wondering whether it is really worth it. Any views out there?


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