There is a specific certification scheme aplicable to each stage of building life cycle: BREEAM New Construction or LEED Building Design and Construction for a new construction project, BREEAM In-Use or LEED Building Operations and Maintenance for an existing building that is already in use.
In theory, new construction assessment begins as early as building design kicks off (or even at conceptual design stage) and ends after the building is completed. Whereas assessment of an existing building is possible only after it is already in use i.e., after official handover date.
In practice, however, it is not uncommon that BREEAM In-Use is choisen instead of BREEAM New Construction for a new construction project. Here are the main reasons why this might be a favourable choice:
- Certification cost
BREEAM In-Use is the most cost-efficient building certification option. The price starts from 5.000 Eur/asset for a BREEAM In-Use project which is many times lower, compared to the costs of a New Construction assessment. LEED Building Operations and Maintenance certification begins from 15.000 Eur/building (because the approach is a bit different from BREEAM In-Use), but still costs much less than LEED New Construction.
- Certification duration
It takes only 2-3 months to certify a building under BREEAM In-Use, whereas New Construction certification takes at least 18 months because it embraces both building design and construction stages. Therefore, BREEAM In-Use certificate can be achieve faster than New Construction.
- Certification level
It is not unusual that decision to certify a new construction project comes a bit too late and the delay has negative impact on certification level. For instance, if building design stage is almost finished and construction process is starting soon, certification under BREEAM New Cosnstruction is still possible, but it‘s very likely that certification level will not be as high as expected. BREEAM New Construction requirements have to be incorporated in the process at an earlier stage in order to achieve BREEAM Excellent or BREEAM Outstanding rating level.
On contrary, for BREEAM In-Use the timing is exactly right. You can start with a pre-assessment now, receive recommendations what to implement during construction process and get certified with the desired certification level after the building is completed. Any BREEAM rating level is possible!
- Sustainability upkeep
New Construction certification is a perfect choice for a speculative project – to get certified once and hand the building over to the new owner/user. For those who plan to continue managing/using the building long after it is completed, BREEAM In-Use is a great option. It requires annual renewal and recertification every 3 years, and thus provides an opportunity to demonstrate that sustainability features are well-maintained over time and the building continues complying with the international sustainable building standard. Besides, such continuous compliance is confirmed by an independent third party – licensed BREEAM In-Use auditor.
- International acknowledgement
BREEAM New Construction and BREEAM In-Use certification schemes are essentially similar because they come from the same BREEAM family and serve the same purpose in quite similar way, so either certification option is a good choice. Therefore, the outcome of certification process – a BREEAM certificate – is a highly valued building quality mark worldwide.
- Minimum input from the client
A client must be actively involved in a New Construction certification process, it’s participation is essential. Sometimes it even requires extra human resources on client’s side to facilitate certification process. On contrary, BREEAM In-Use certification is much less time-demanding for the client because the auditor does almost all the work on their behalf.
- Documents in local language
For New Construction, project documents shall be either in English or translated to English before submission for certification. For BREEAM In-Use, no translation is needed, documents in local language are suitable.
To summarize, BREEAM In-Use is a shorter, simplier and less costly option to achieve BREEAM certificate for buildings still under construction, and those already in use.