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The Warsaw Voice » Business » June 30, 2011
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BREEAM: The most widely used environmental assessment method of buildings
June 30, 2011   
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With the increased popularity of green developments in Poland, approval of a method for their comparison against international benchmarking standards has become inevitable. In Poland BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) have become the most widely used procedures for assessing a building’s environmental performance. BREEAM is by far the most popular method in Europe. Developed by the BRE (Building Research Establishment) in the 1990s, it’s become so popular that to date the BREEAM certificate has been obtained by nearly 200,000 buildings across the world (albeit mainly in the UK), including four in Poland, with several more pending certification this year.

The method provides a comprehensive overview of a building’s impact on both the internal and external environment by assessing it against criteria such as management of construction, the health and wellbeing of the occupants, energy and water consumption, the environmental impact of construction materials, proximity to public transport, waste segregation, the ecological value of the site and pollution.

The obvious advantages of such buildings for their users (better comfort of work, a healthier environment) and owners (lower operational costs) has made most Polish and international developers commit to certifying all their future portfolios of commercial developments.

Of course, such buildings may require higher capital investment but WSP experience shows that incorporating BREEAM criteria at an early stage of the design process can reduce the extra costs dramatically, providing a payback within one year of the building going into use. The certificate also provides additional, tangible value to the building.

However, the popularity of BREEAM has also made apparent the challenges which Poland still faces: the most prominent are a lack of appropriate regulations and incentives for renewable energy use, a practically non-existent market for recycled products and a scarcity of innovative, economically feasible alternatives in a building’s services.

Sustainable development principles embedded in BREEAM assessment criteria may soon impact the entire property sector in Poland – BREEAM requires implementation of the best European standards in both planning and construction procedures by using state-of-the-art design techniques and eco-friendly materials. Once the skills are acquired by stakeholders in the real estate market, it is difficult to imagine regressing to “business as usual” even for developments which do not aspire to any international certifications.

Magdalena Stretton
Managing Director, Vice President, Licensed BREEAM International Assessor, WSP Enviro Sp. z o.o.
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