4 Operational / QA /

01 General

Information correct as of 7thMarch 2021. Please see kb.breeam.com for the latest compliance information.

Amendment of BREEAM certificates - KBCN0507

All BREEAM certificates are issued are based on the information included within the assessment at the point of certification. Where this information is incorrect and an amendment is required, the certificate amendment fee as per FS036 will be applicable. An email must be sent to breeam@bre.co.uk stating the report reference and outlining the amendment. For domestic schemes where a separate certificate is issued for each dwelling, the email must highlight if the amendment is applicable to one or all of the certificates.

Assessment and evidence record keeping - KBCN0521

The licensed organization is responsible for implementing and maintaining internal quality management procedures for record keeping. Licensed organizations are required to keep all documentation, materials and data (i.e. evidence) associated with all assessments conducted by them for a period of ten (10) years following the submission of the report to BRE Global. BRE Global reserves the right to contact licensed assessor organizations at any point during this ten (10) year period to verify the information/assessment in cases where certification is challenged. Where requested, the licensee will supply BRE Global with all documents necessary to audit the performance of the assessment.  Please note: Submitting copies of evidence to BRE Global for quality assurance and certification purposes, whether hard copies or an online upload via an authorized BREEAM tool, does not release Assessors from their obligation to store records of assessment evidence for the required time period. BRE Global will only use evidence provided by the licensed Assessor for the purpose of making a certification decision.  BRE Global does not keep records of all assessment evidence for six (6) years once a certification has been made.
2021 01 05 Information retention requirement corrected from 6 year to 10 years. Company references amended. 

BREEAM In-Use QA and Certification explained - KBCN0523

The BREEAM In-Use (BiU) certification scheme was introduced in 2009. Since then we have certified many assessments by a large international network of dedicated and professional assessors. As the success of BREEAM In-Use grows it is appropriate that we review and, where necessary, update the scheme’s quality assurance and certification procedures. This ensures we can collectively maintain and enhance its robustness, improve quality and align with evolving international standards to which we seek accreditation. To support this aim we introduced the following changes to the quality assurance and certification process from February 2015: If one of your assessments is selected for technical audit, you will be informed of this immediately after submission for certification. At this point you will be requested to send in supporting evidence at your earliest convenience. Assessments that have not been selected for a technical audit will undergo administrative checks only, which BRE Global will undertake within two working days and certification will follow thereafter. The audit programme is designed in such a way that an assessor performing to the required standard can expect a significant majority of their BiU assessments to be selected for administrative checks only, and therefore typically certification will occur within two days for most submissions. Certification of those assessments selected for a technical audit will occur after the assessment has passed the audit process, so the timescale for this will depend on both BRE Global and the assessor. We will inform assessors of the timescale in which they can expect audit feedback for a specific assessment upon acknowledgement of receipt of their submission. We will also publish a service level that we will work to in this respect, so that assessors and their client have a degree of certainty over when they can expect such feedback and, subject to passing the audit, certification. We believe this process for the scheme assists BRE Global and assessors in promoting the independence, robustness and integrity of the scheme to their clients, who will have greater confidence that the certified rating of their asset is an accurate and verified representation of its performance. In turn, this helps us to further differentiate the BiU product in the international market place and increase uptake of the scheme.  

BREEAM Live Chat – Terms of Use - KBCN1002

The Live Chat service is provided to assessors as a means of contacting the BREEAM Team.  For QA queries, we welcome closing out of very quick and straightforward audit findings through the service, however this should only be in the case of small numbers of findings which can be obviously and objectively closed out quickly (e.g. 2-3 findings maximum, each taking less than 5 minutes discussion).  For Licensing and Registration queries you can contact the team instead of sending an email or phoning, the types of queries that can be answered through live chat are detailed in the June 2018 Process Note. Licence and registration applications cannot be submitted via Live Chat - these should be submitted through the current processes. For technical queries, this is not intended to replace email submissions for complex technical queries, which often require research and consultation within BREEAM to resolve, but should be viewed as an alternative to a telephone hotline, where assessors can seek a quick clarification or reassurance on technical matters. If you have already submitted a written query to BREEAM Technical and are awaiting a response, please do not chase this up on Live Chat. For further guidance, please refer to the September 2018 Process Note. For all types of queries, we expect conversations to last no more than 20 minutes maximum. In order to provide this service whilst still delivering BREEAM services to the assessor network, it is unlikely that we will be able to have conversations lasting much longer than this time. Please do not be surprised or offended if at around that time, the person you are speaking to needs to draw the conversation to a close.  Where the person (or team) you require speaking to is not available due to not being at their desk or any other reason, we will inform you and where possible let you know when they are next likely to be available. Please be understanding of this - it is important you speak to the right person, but there is always a reasonable chance they are not available.  BRE Global reserves the right to suspend or withdraw this service at any time and without prior notice. It is offered for free at the current time and does not constitute any part of the contractual service delivered by BRE Global as part of the licence agreement.   Where assessors are found to misuse the service (including but not limited to: Consistently raising inappropriate queries, going over the 20 minute maximum time on a frequent basis, allowing others to login as the assessor or being rude and/or abusive towards those answering your queries), the Live Chat service will be withdrawn permanently from that individual.

Confirmation of version / year of technical standards - KBCN0519

When providing evidence of compliance it is important for design teams to clearly refer to the version and / or year of the standard being complied with for an assessment. The issue / release / adoption of standards sets the requirements appropriate at the time of publication of the BREEAM scheme documentation.  A standard may be updated in between BREEAM re-issues and updates so the standard cited in the requirements or the most current version of a standard can be applied. This applies to standards such as National (e.g. British) Standards, HTM documents, Environment Agency and Policy Planning Guidelines etc. Where the current version of the standard differs notably from the cited standard in the manual, it is the role of the assessor or design team to verify that it is equivalent or more robust than the original requirement. Evidence failing to demonstrate this will be result in raising of a non-conformance within QA and will delay certification. See also: KBCN0747 Equivalent standard use
23/08/17 Merged with “Superseded standards and evidence referenced” KBCN0453

Conflict of Interest statements - KBCN0520

If the assessor believes there is or may be potential for a conflict of interest then the first step to managing it is to declare it to BRE Global, along with any measures proposed or taken to manage the potential conflict. BRE Global can then confirm or advise steps that need to be taken by the relevant parties (including ourselves) to maintain the objectivity of the assessment and its outcome. The assessor should inform BRE Global of any potential conflict at the registration stage of assessment; or at the appropriate time thereafter when the potential conflict becomes apparent and before the assessment is submitted for a certification decision Licensed assessors can and often will need to advise clients, project teams and asset owners/managers on whether one or more proposed solutions comply and how to interpret assessment criteria for the purpose of determining, designing or proposing compliant solutions. This type of advice does not necessarily constitute a conflict of interest, but assessors should be mindful in doing so that it does not lead to one. When submitting the assessment to the BREEAM QA Team the assessor must submit a signed statement confirming the roles undertaken by the assessor/assessor organisation and how any potential conflicts of interest have been managed. A statement confirming that there was no conflict of interest is not sufficient. In such circumstances the assessment and evidence submitted may be subject to closer scrutiny. Where BRE Global has unresolved concerns relating to the potential conflicts of interest, additional measure may be imposed to verify the integrity of the submitted assessment.  

Conflict of Interest statements for BREEAM USA In-Use assessments - KBCN1421

If the Assessor is a member of the company who are producing evidence to demonstrate compliance, there must be clear separation of the roles and the BREEAM Assessor must not be personally responsible for producing such evidence.   If the Assessor believes there is or may be a potential for a conflict of interest, the Assessor should inform BRE America of any potential conflict as soon as the potential conflict becomes apparent. This should be considered before the assessment begins. The Assessor should send the statement to BREEAMInUse@bregroup.com. Assessors should confirm the roles undertaken by the Assessor/Assessor Organization and how any potential conflicts of interest have been managed.  A statement confirming that there was no conflict of interest is not sufficient.  In such circumstances, the assessment and evidence submitted may be subject to closer scrutiny.  Where BRE Global has unresolved concerns relating to the potential conflicts of interest, the assessment will not be permitted to proceed.  BREEAM is a third-party certification program. Therefore, it is important to avoid any conflicts of interest between those producing evidence and those awarding credits to ensure the robustness of the certification process. 
2021 01 05 Updates to title, links and text

Disclosure of issues selected for auditing - KBCN0819

We are often asked by assessors to identify the issues and credits we check during a quality assurance audit. As with similar certification schemes, BREEAM does not notify assessors about what proportion of the requirements/issues are or have been checked; it could be all of them or just some. Over the course of a number of audits all, or a significant majority of issues will be checked and, via raising non-conformances where they are found, the assessor should gain confidence that their approach to the application of the standard is the correct one, without compromising the independence or randomised nature of the auditing process (by revealing all items checked in every audit). Furthermore, to identify the issues audited and confirm those without non-conformities as ‘OK’ would imply that everything provided and referenced as part of that issue was being confirmed by BRE Global as compliant. This would not necessarily be the case and could pose further problems in future assessments. Finally, in the past we experienced some assessors using the QA audits as a form of ‘checking service’ and would submit assessments before they were complete and at a stage ready to be certified. This undermined the purpose of the QA audit process and contributed to delays in QA turnaround times. Maintaining the anonymity of the issues audited we feel is the best way to check that assessments have applied BREEAM in accordance with the requirements of the scheme and, in the long term, maintain the standards of assessment. The assessor can expect the auditor to provide positive feedback regarding aspects of the assessment process that have been carried out well (within the feedback section at the beginning of the QA form). This will not be issue-specific feedback but it will draw upon examples from within the assessment being audited. We will also feedback on QA-related issues to the wider assessor network, through events like the Customer Liaison Workshop, BRE Academy webinars, the Forum and Knowledge Base. This feedback is not linked to specific assessments, but highlights trends, common issues and pitfalls identified via the QA of particular BREEAM issues, credits, criteria and evidence. This will, we hope, help assessors in evaluating their approach to credits, foster further good practice and quicker audits.

Evidence – Photographs not permitted for security reasons - KBCN0389

Where photographs are not permitted during a site visit for security reasons, in addition to any alternative evidence requirements listed in the Schedule of Evidence for each issue, the assessor will also need to provide a detailed site inspection report and/or as-built drawings (where permitted by the client). If following this approach, full justification and documentary evidence from the client will be required for QA purposes.

Fast Track QA - KBCN0518

For assessments where certification is required very quickly (i.e. days or a couple of weeks), it is possible to apply for our Fast Track QA service. If the application is accepted, the service guarantees feedback within 3 full working days for first submissions, and 2 full working days for resubmissions, from the date that acceptance of the assessment under the Fast Track scheme is sent by BRE Global. The service can be applied for at any time during the audit process, and covers a total of 3 submissions, i.e. a first submission and 2 resubmissions, or if applied for after first submission feedback has already been issued, 3 resubmissions. When resubmitting an assessment, it is the responsibility of the assessor to ensure that BRE is clearly notified that the fast track assessment has been resubmitted by sending an email to breeamfasttrack@bre.co.uk and if utilising the upload function within BREEAM Projects/Extranet, the 'Fast Track' option must be ticked. Where this does not happen, feedback is likely to be delayed with no crediting of the additional fees paid. To apply for the service, a completed and signed application form must be submitted to breeamfasttrack@bre.co.uk, after submitting both the assessment and supporting documentation. An application will not be confirmed as accepted until all three items are received. Requests for the service will be accepted or declined based on availability at the time of application, as the service is operated outside of regular working hours to ensure there is no negative impact upon assessments not requesting the service. However, if an application is declined, the assessor can reapply any time up until feedback is issued. Multiple applications covering initial submission under the same assessor and same scheme are unlikely to be accepted on the same day.

Green Lease Agreement – reference to the technical manual - KBCN0881

The technical manual includes criteria, intended for the guidance and interpretation of licensed BREEAM assessors. It does not generally provide detailed practical solutions to meet the criteria. In the BREEAM UK New Construction 2011 and International New Construction 2013 schemes, Shell only/Shell & core assessments included provision for demonstrating compliance for fit-out items using a Green Lease Agreement (GLA). The future tenant and their design team should not have to rely on a licensed BREEAM assessor to assist them in interpreting the GLA to achieve a compliant fit-out. Specifications for achieving compliance must therefore be explicitly included within the GLA, with reference to the relevant BREEAM criteria, to allow the fit-out team to understand exactly what is required. A compliant Green Lease Agreement must be a robust alternative to the actual implementation or installation of fit-out measures. A Green Lease Agreement which relies solely on reference to the BREEAM Technical manual is not considered a robust solution. 

How to start a PCR in BREEAM Projects - KBCN1167

When completing a post construction review (PCR) of a certified design stage assessment it is not necessary to submit a new assessment registration. PCRs are a review assessment of a certified design stage and therefore do not require a new assessment registration. Do not register PCRs through the online registration system otherwise a non-refundable registration fee will be charged. Assessors can start PCRs of their own certified Design stage assessments through BREEAM Projects. Some schemes are not available in BREEAM Projects please see KBCN1069 for details. If the scheme is not compatible to start a PCR in BREEAM Projects please follow instructions in KBCN076. Firstly, find the certified Design stage in your Projects folders. This will either be in a Project folder you have created or it will be in the Project folder titled ‘MY ASSESSMENTS NOT IN A PROJECT’. Click on the Grey cross to expand the folder. Find the assessment and click on it to open the design stage. It should have a green tick at the end which shows ‘Certified’. There will be a box on the first page of the DS assessment which shows the previous ‘QA Result’ Scroll to the bottom of the assessment page and a 'Start PCR' button should be visible. You will be taken to start PCR page with three simple questions. Answer the three questions and click Start PCR. A new PCR assessment will be added and you will receive an email confirming the number. If you cannot find the design stage in your Projects folders then it may have been certified by a different assessor or a different licensed assessor company. In this instance please contact BREEAM Registrations team on BREEAM@bre.co.uk or on Live Chat and the team will be able to start the PCR and assign it your account (if the relevant scheme licence is valid). Please note that you do not have access to any assessments for schemes where you do not hold a valid licence and therefore would not be able to start assessing at PCR stage. Please see other compliance note regarding the process of submitting PCRs under schemes that use the excel scoring and reporting tool and are not compatible with BREEAM Projects.

My client insists the credit is met because it was ‘accepted’ on a previous assessment - KBCN0837

BRE will support assessors in our role as an accredited certification body, particularly where they feel a non-compliant solution is being pushed on them on the basis that it has been 'accepted' on previous assessments by assessors or BRE. In such instances, and for any scenarios where the assessor requires support, you can contact us (BREEAM Technical Support) for an impartial view to assist with your verification. In such situations, it would be helpful in the first instance, to explain the audit and certification process to the client and clarify why the proposed solution may not be compliant. Whilst it may be a consideration in the process of verification for a specific assessment, implying compliance or accepting evidence of it solely on the basis of an assessment on a previous project, potentially by a different assessor, is not good assessment or certification practice. We strongly advise assessors not to submit assessments based on evidence that you know or believe to be non-compliant in the hope that it will either not be selected for QA or we that we will simply accept compliance in such instances. Doing so could put an assessor in breach of your licensing terms and lead to suspension or termination. A large part of the value of BREEAM is in its certification, if certification is based on invalid or unverified assessment of performance it undermines the scheme, assessors and BRE.

New Fees – main changes and key points – FS036 Rev27 From 1 July 2017 - KBCN0879

Note: FS036 rev 28 is effective from 1st December 2019 - See KBCN1366
Schemes affected Main changes Key points  

New Fees – FS036 Rev28 – effective from 1st December 2019 - KBCN1366

Follow this link to access FS036 Rev 28 A summary of changes, providing additional information is also available here.

QA timescales - KBCN0526

Once an assessment has been received and booked in by the BREEAM QA Team, a specific feedback date will be provided via email. This will be an indication of the latest date that feedback should be issued for an assessment, and wherever possible feedback will be issued earlier. Our current average turnaround times for QA in all schemes is available within BREEAM Projects/the BREEAM Extranet, in the following location: QA Timescales and Fast Track Application Form.

Quality Assurance (QA) Failure Charge - KBCN0508

In certain circumstances BRE Global will charge a fee for assessment failure (as per FS036). This is to encourage the submission of assessments to the required quality, avoid misuse of the QA process and ensure efficient use of QA auditors’ time (and therefore avoid delays in auditing other licensed assessors’ assessments). The assessment failure charge applies to the following circumstances: Where an assessment failure has been identified, a report is issued to the assessor identifying the relevant corrective actions he/she needs to take before re-submitting the assessment. The assessment failure fee will be charged to the licensed organisation by BRE Global.

Schemes and types on BREEAM Projects - KBCN1069

Many schemes and types can now be submitted via BREEAM Projects. This compliance note lists the schemes that are available via BREEAM projects and can be submitted using the BREEAM Projects online portal. Assessors will upload new assessments to us through an assessment submission portal within BREEAM Projects, rather than the extranet upload tool, for all schemes other than BREEAM In-Use, CSH, EcoHomes and any other scheme version released prior to 1st January 2008. The exception to this will be assessments completed through BREEAM Recognised Software, which should continue to be submitted via the Recognised platform (which is linked to our systems). This means that we will no longer accept assessment submissions for the affected schemes through post (CD/memory stick), email, FTP upload or other means, with the exception of BREEAM Recognised Software. Assessments can continue to be completed using offline tools (e.g. the MS Excel BREEAM New Construction Scoring and Reporting Tool). In such instances the assessor will simply upload the file to BREEAM Projects at the point of submission, at the click of a few buttons, rather than issued to BREEAM through any other means. Schemes and types that are available through BREEAM Projects: Schemes that are currently not available to upload through BREEAM Projects, the extranet upload tool and FTP uploads will still be accepted:  

Security sensitive projects - KBCN0525

For security sensitive projects, all technical queries, QA submissions and QA enquiries can be sent to secureBREEAM@bre.co.uk. Only security cleared (SC level) staff have access to this inbox and work on security sensitive projects. When registering the project, there is an option to mark the project 'confidential'. This means that no information will be listed on our Greenbook Live public listings page once the project has been certified. In exceptional circumstances it may be possible for an auditor to carry out QA of an assessment at the client's office or another location agreed with BRE Global, the assessor company and the client. Additional fees will apply and it may not always be possible to accommodate this request. Please send an email to BREEAM@bre.co.uk marked for the attention of the Certification Manager if you wish to discuss this option.

Suspension of work due to non-payment of invoices - KBCN0511

Payment of any invoices relating to BREEAM work must be made within 30 days of the date of issue (PN173, clause 7 iii). We appreciate that in some circumstances it may not be possible for a company to meet these payment terms. To allow additional time for payment, therefore, we currently given an extended period to make payment before suspension (PN173, clause 25 (v)) on BREEAM accounts is applied. At this point BRE is unable to process any technical or non-technical queries, registrations, QA, certifications, or bespoke or licence applications. If you have any queries regarding any outstanding invoices, or general queries about your account, please contact the BREEAM Licensing Team on 0333 321 88 11 or via BREEAM@bre.co.uk.

Version of ASWL that should be submitted to QA - KBCN0910

The version of the ASWL that should be submitted is the one that was current at the time of registration or a later version, but not an older version. The following dates were taken from the appropriate Process Note. For post construction assessment, the registration date at design stage of the project should be considered Please always indicate the version of the ASWL that has been submitted to QA, either in the name of the document or in the report.

Where the flexibility lies in demonstrating compliance - KBCN0838

This compliance note aims to clarify flexibility in evidence types versus flexibility in compliance. Evidence types: We are aware that not everything given to assessors will be in the precise format or of the exact type that the schedule of evidence (in schemes for which there are detailed schedules) requests. We have attempted to clarify the flexibility which is afforded assessors in this respect by removal of the prescriptive schedule of evidence in the more recent UK New Construction schemes, however feedback has been mixed with some assessors stating that a more rigid and definitive schedule of evidence is the preference. Compliance: We wish to be clear that this flexibility relates to how compliance is demonstrated and does not extend to the requirement to meet the technical criteria. Within the QA process, deviations from the technical requirements of the scheme cannot be considered. If compliance is being claimed then such claims must be backed by robust evidence demonstrating that claim, and that evidence can come in a variety of different forms. If the assessor believes that the aim of the assessment issue is fully met by means other than strict compliance with the defined criteria, they should send in a technical query, including all relevant details, for consideration before submitting for QA.

Where the flexibility lies in demonstrating compliance - KBCN0838

This compliance note aims to clarify flexibility in evidence types versus flexibility in compliance.    We are aware that not everything given to Assessors will be in the precise format or of the exact type as set out in the relevant Technical Manual.  BREEAM allows for flexibility in the evidence that can be provided but does not allow for flexibility on the Assessment Criteria.  Within the QA process, deviations from the technical requirements of the program cannot be considered. If compliance is being claimed then such claims must be backed by robust evidence demonstrating that claim, and that evidence can come in a variety of different forms.  Acceptance of the alternative evidence is solely the discretion of the BREEAM USA Technical team.  If the Assessor believes that the aim of the assessment issue is fully met by means other than strict compliance with the defined criteria, they should send in a technical question to the Technical team for consideration before submitting for QA. The technical question submission should include all relevant details, including why the Assessor believes the alternative approach or evidence supports the aim of the issue.  Response times for Technical questions and the contact details for the Technical team are available on the Assessor Portal. If the deviation from the technical requirements is accepted, the corresponding confirmation email must be submitted as evidence for certification. 

Who determines compliance the Assessor or BRE? - KBCN0839

In the BREEAM assessment model, the assessor determines compliance and BRE Global quality-assures the assessment. Rather than saying definitively that an assessor's decision is incorrect, the QA process may raise a finding (Non-Conformance) where it is not clear that compliance is demonstrated. BREEAM technical support cannot generally confirm compliance, as that would be deemed as advice, which could conflict with our need to remain impartial as the certifying body. However, we can, and do, support the assessor in the decision-making/assessment process, affording confidence through assisting with interpretation of the criteria in any given scenario. Ultimately, however, it is the role of the licensed BREEAM assessor to determine compliance and to demonstrate this with appropriate evidence in their assessment report.
Information correct as of 7thMarch 2021. Please see kb.breeam.com for the latest compliance information.