By Molly Wilder

LEED-EBOM (now known as LEED O+M for Existing Buildings) has been the premiere rating system used in America for over a decade, but a new player is coming to town!  The Building Research Establishment, located in the UK, and BuildingWise, a Bay Area based LEED consulting company are partnering up to bring the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) In-Use system to the US, dedicated to commercial properties only.  Created in 1990, it predates LEED, and has almost four times as many certified projects as LEED does worldwide.  

Heading the national endeavor is Barry Giles, who was named the CEO in May of this year.  His extensive history in green building practices, including being a founding member of LEED-EBOM, make him an ideal candidate for the position.  He and his associates see implementing BREEAM as the next logical step in expanding accreditation, as this classification reduces restrictions and prerequisites for existing, and often older buildings, allowing more to get certified.  Up to 85% of structures don’t meet LEED standards, and the third party, onsite, benchmarking method is more flexible, as it considers local science specific to that construction and location.  

“Many of today’s buildings are not equipped for the future and underperform against their potential, wasting resources and unnecessarily impacting the environment,” said Gavin Dunn, Global Director of BREEAM. “In a real estate market that considers value based on a wide range of metrics these assets risk devaluation or becoming stranded. With BREEAM we provide a system that can cost-effectively be applied to any property to enable managers to improve and get recognition for the performance of their existing real-estate assets. Whether improving the performance of older inefficient properties, or ensuring new high-performance properties meet their potential, BREEAM eliminates wasted resources at all levels.” (quote courtesy of

Certification begins with an online assessment done by the building owner, who does a self-rating in the fields of energy, health and well-being, innovation, land use, materials, management, pollution, transport, waste, and water, analyzing procurement, design, construction and operation of the structure.  Once a score is obtained, if the owner wishes to make it official, an independent, licensed assessor is hired to certify this, and rates and certifies the project on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.  This initial accreditation is good for a year, and can be renewed for up to three years, before requiring a new evaluation.  

BREEAM benefits include lower operational costs, reduced investor and developer risk, it presents a more attractive property, as well as a more productive, healthy environment for tenants.  A leading development undertaking BREEAM USA In-Use is the BLOC in downtown Los Angeles.  Presently, the BLOC is being upgraded into the destination space for Los Angeles residents including a shopping mall and Sheraton hotel.  With major projects like this showcasing the rating system’s success, the USGBC and the US as a whole can look forward to more and more locations receiving green certifications, providing healthier and happier environments for everyone.

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