Last week BRE Global announced that the “BREEAM USA In-Use Version 6 for Commercial and Residential” green building rating system has launched. In addition to improvements to the prior commercial building rating system BREEAM In-Use now includes residential for the first time (accepting that existing multi-family building is a very much underserved sector).

An update to the BREEAM In-Use online platform, which is used to facilitate the benchmarking and certification process, has also been rolled out with an improved user interface.

During a global pandemic might seem an odd time to announce a new green building rating system, but appreciate that this was at the end of a global 18 month long pilot process.  Moreover, BREEAM USA In-Use supports existing buildings in the United States to measure their sustainability performance and gather information to drive improvements in a cost effective manner and receive market recognition for the achievement, so those buildings exist today (i.e., this is not a new construction rating system).

BREEAM was not only the first third party certified green building rating system, but today many real estate industry insiders consider it the most technically proficient if not also the most efficacious of the green building rating systems. Created in Great Britain in 1990, based upon the work of British engineer and architect John Doggart, an early version of BREEAM was the genesis of LEED. But despite several attempts at a North American invasion, including a 2008 joint venture with ICSC, BREEAM has never been widely accepted nor utilized in the U.S., which has surprised some because it appears aimed at a sweet spot, class B and C existing buildings? See my 2017 post on the First BREEAM USA In-Use Certification.

This new update appears to be philosophically based on the changing climate on real estate where there has been a shift from “green” as a marketing tool to ESG performance reporting to stakeholders and risk management. It is not clear how that will play in the U.S. in this post pandemic era. The shift toward ESG may be too much of a European bent where ESG is not an investment tool widely appreciated in the U.S. and the COVID-19 influenced shift from green may be toward building occupant health.

All of that observed, at a time when “What Is Cinema?” is out and “what is television?” is in, the new BREEAM USA In-Use will be an ideal green building rating system for many existing buildings.

v2016 will remain open for registrations for one final year, giving building owners and assessors time to plan before they have to upgrade. Buildings that are due to expire after this one year window will need to recertify in Version 6.

BRE will be hosting a series of four free webinars to introduce the new version. Click on the topic to register:

Commercial buildings are able to register now and benchmark through the updated online platform. Online registration and benchmarking for Residential assets will come online by late summer, with offline Scoring and Reporting Tools are available for the interim.

It can be expected that BREEAM credits will be amended and adjusted, just as new LEED pilot credits are anticipated in coming days, as the green building industrial complex, in an effort to remain relevant, urgently responds to concerns about reoccupying commercial buildings and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

If we can assist you in navigating the realm of green building standards, rating systems and codes or otherwise with an environmental matter, we are ready to help you.