3 General Technical /

Compliance Principles

Information correct as of 8thJuly 2020. Please see kb.breeam.com for the latest compliance information.

‘BREEAM compliant’ products or materials - KBCN0925

In order to demonstrate compliance with the relevant BREEAM criteria, the performance of specific products or materials must be considered in the context of each assessed building. BREEAM is a whole building-based assessment scheme and BRE does not endorse or approve products or materials as 'BREEAM compliant'.

COVID-19 Bulletin 1: Alterations to BREEAM assessment requirements as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic - KBCN1395

We appreciate that, during this challenging period, complete adherence to all our standard operating and assessment requirements may not be possible. Following our initial guidance on March the 19th, this Bulletin aims to assist assessors, and our wider stakeholders, with continuing to conduct assessments in a robust manner whilst also taking a practical view in light of the COVID-19 global crisis and its impacts on many territories. It may be necessary for us to update this guidance as circumstances change. We will inform assessors via the process note as and when such updates are made however please do check back prior to nearing the submission of an assessment to ensure that you are following the most current guidance. Readers are also advised that this guidance is only applicable in situations where social distancing rules relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are in place and must be implemented in line with the prevailing government/relevant authority advice on social distancing, and health and safety.  
  1. Submitting assessments and certification:
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic currently varies between geographic regions and territories, assessors should provide an account of the particular circumstances of the place and nature of the assessment within their report. Provided assessors follow all relevant guidance outlined in this Bulletin as a means of demonstrating compliance in as robust and thorough a manner possible, Interim and Final Certificates will be issued as normal, without a caveat.  
  1. Gathering evidence for site assessments:
The status of construction, and other sites is variable; some are dormant, others active and operational with some cases of priority works and completions still taking place. Furthermore, some stakeholders may be having to self-isolate during a critical point of the assessment. As such, it may be difficult, or impossible, for assessors to gain full access to conduct a site assessment. In cases where an assessor cannot personally visit or gain access to the site, they can appoint a suitable individual, for example a main contractor or asset manager, to undertake a formal site assessment on their behalf. The appointed individual would be expected to provide a robust account to the assessor of evidence in place of their own site assessment report. We would expect the report to contain photographs and/or virtual tour stills from the building and be signed off by both the appointed individual and assessor. For those assessment issues relating to external spaces beyond the site, we will accept stills/images from Google Street View (or equivalent), provided it is demonstrated that such evidence is current. Where the above options are not possible, for example when the site has been closed, for HQM, BREEAM New Construction and Refurbishment schemes, in place of a site assessment report, we will accept ‘as built drawings’ and written confirmation from the design team and main contractors that the requirements have been met. This confirmation should be specific and adhere to other evidence requirement principles.  
  1. BREEAM in Use re-certification:
If a site assessment is not possible, either for the assessor or a suitable individual, desk-based evidence will be accepted for the purposes of BIU re-certification where:  
  1. Timing of workshops, testing and other subsidiary evidence submissions:
Given the widespread availability of remote communication technologies, it is generally possible to undertake the majority of activities relating to our assessment criteria without the need for face-to-face contact or site assessments. However, we appreciate that this won’t be the case in all instances and that some projects may be experiencing delays in some areas whilst other aspects may still be moving forward. Development and improvements are rarely linear at the best of times. With respect to workshops, the key consideration is that they take place at a time when they have a meaningful impact and achieve the aim of the criteria. BREEAM New Construction and RFO schemes typically set timelines based on the RIBA Work Stages. Evidence of remote workshops taking place outside of the prescribed timescales will be accepted provided it can be demonstrated that the aim of the issue is still achieved. With respect to indoor air quality testing, where possible, the construction programme should allow time for the indoor air quality testing to be undertaken post-construction/pre-occupancy, in line with the BREEAM criteria. However, where it can be demonstrated that this is not possible, due to restrictions relating to COVID-19, it is permissible to undertake the indoor air quality testing post-occupancy, as follows: With respect to subsidiary, third party assessments such as ecological site inspections or audits, desktop surveys based on available information (e.g. planning surveys, agent’s reports, photographs, Google Earth), can be used as an alternative provided there is enough material for a confident recommendation and/or outcome to be achieved. If the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted prior to Final Certification and it is safe to do so, this must then be followed by a site inspection/audit to verify any assumptions made and gather any missing survey information. The desktop survey and site report should then be submitted as evidence. Third party consultants should also work in line with any health and safety guidance issued by relevant professional bodies.   We hope that you find this helpful. It is intended as general guidance, however if assessors encounter situations which differ substantially and/or are unsure how/whether this guidance is applicable, please seek advice from BREEAM by submitting a query on the webform.

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. 

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.

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.

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 8thJuly 2020. Please see kb.breeam.com for the latest compliance information.