The Origins of BREEAM

How BREEAM began


BREEAM is by far the world’s longest running environmental standard. It also has international recognition as well as British recognition. Its development began at the Building Research Establishment’s HQ in Watford, in 1988. They are now known as the The BRE Group.

The BRE Group harks back to 1921 when the Building Research Station was formed. This was followed by the formation of the Forest Products Research Labs (1927) and the Fire Research Station (1936). In 1972, they became part of the Building Research Establishment.

In 1990, the BREEAM standard was created for new office buildings. Subsequently, this was extended to cover existing office buildings, retail premises, industrial units, and other buildings. As the years have advanced, the BREEAM standard has evolved to cover refurbished projects. This includes standards for:

  • New Construction: any new build projects within the UK;
  • International New Construction: any new build projects outside the UK;
  • In-Use: enables building managers to reduce the running costs and improve the environmental performance of their buildings;
  • Refurbishment: a design and assessment method for housing refurbishment projects;
  • Communities: involves the sustainable masterplanning of whole communities.

BREEAM standards are observed in more 70 countries around the world. Some European countries have devised nationwide schemes.

Mainer Associates, 22 June 2017.