BREEAM, the Building Research Establishment, and the environmental assessment of buildings and building developments.
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This section of SeeRed comprises primarily an internet version of the author's published "Methodology for Environmental Assessment of Buildings and Building Developments". It includes a detailed critique of BREEAM - the methodology developed by the UK government in 1989/90 and which in the author's opinion was fundamentally flawed.
More than 15 years on, BREEAM is still being commercially promoted by the privatised BRE. In 2005, the Chief Executive of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) joined an 'expert panel' further to advise the BRE on how environmental impacts should be assessed. This may be no more than a continuation of a process that had been well recognised as early as 1991 - in Section 4 it is noted "a number of sympathetic companies have been organised into a development unit to help perpetuate the illusion of universal acclaim".
A recent (Nov 2006) example of where the BREEAM scheme was used by Minister Harriet Harman to defend an arguably poor design of air conditioning system using HFCs in a refurbished government building was contained in a Commons written answer.
It would be interesting to analyse if significant improvements have occurred in over fifteen years of promoting various government schemes such as BREEAM and Eco Homes. One danger is that what are overtly commercial initiatives can gain credibility by association with respected academic or environmental bodies.
The paper copy of the author's report was published in 1993 under ISBN 0 9519825 1 6. It was used for many years in some universities but never found wide readership because of the narrow appeal of the whole subject area. A few paper copies are still available - order from any bookseller or direct from the author.
Some minor paragraphs have been omitted in this internet edition. However, the technical content and arguments have stood the test of time.
In preparing this internet edition, no updating of the scientific text has yet been undertaken - the position as outlined is as it was in 1993. However care must be taken to ensure that before any advice is acted upon it is checked to be in accordance with the latest local or national legal requirements.
Index for this section of SeeRed.
(numbering sequence follows that in the original printed report)
dissent over the BREEAM methodology - an example from within BRE, 1991
1.1 History of environmental awareness
1.2 Buildings' assessment
2 A LOGICAL BASIS FOR BUILDINGS' ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
2.1 Classification of issues
(a) The role of regulation
(b) Recognising that risk must exist
(c) The example of drinking water in the USA
(d) A few conclusions
(e) The absurdity of overregulation
(f) Health effects in buildings
(g) The resulting classification
2.2 Primary environmental issues
2.3 Secondary environmental issues
2.4 Primary and secondary health issues
2.5 Operational phase of the building or development
2.6 Stages in assessment process
2.7 Discussion of market forces
2.8 Workbook or environmental log
3 BUILDING MATERIALS: AN ISSUE FOR ANALYSIS
4 A DISCUSSION OF BREEAM
5 APPLICATION OF THE METHODOLOGY
6 CASE STUDIES
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