BREEAM: a standard of excellence that increases your property’s value
A better understanding of French and international certificates & labels
Buildings are responsible for almost 43% of global greenhouse gas emissions – making them a huge contributor to climate change*. Governments and the private sector have adopted a series of measures to reduce this impact, including environmental labels and certificates. Certification is a quality-assurance initiative covering one or several issues. Going beyond regulatory requirements, a certificate – such as BREEAM, HQE or LEED – attests to an overall level of environmental performance.
Labels, on the other hand, focus on one or two specific environmental issues and can be used to complement certificates. They include Biodivercity, Zero Carbon, Osmoz Well, etc.
There are many French and international green certification models and labels, which address a variety of needs.
Focus on BREEAM: key aspects & benefits
BREEAM is widely used across Europe to assess buildings’ environmental performance, to the same extent as LEED in the United States and HQE in France. It applies to both new builds and renovations, to both residential and commercial buildings – including offices, schools, hospitals, industrial facilities, etc.
Since 2010, GSE’s 15-strong Green Building team has been advising customers on certificates, labels and environmental strategy in general. The appeal of BREEAM lies in the fact that it offers Europe-wide recognition, unlike HQE (more specific to France) or LEED (focused on US standards and ill-suited to the European market). BREEAM is intended for projects seeking certification that is consistent with buildings across various European countries.
90% of GSE projects over the last three years have been BREEAM certified.
Increasing your real estate’s “green value”
The notion of “green value” is currently defined as the additional net value resulting from sustainable construction and – more generally – from a real estate asset’s good environmental performance. Office buildings with environmental certificates charge higher rents and enjoy higher occupancy rates and resale values than their non-certified counterparts.
The proportion of certified office buildings is growing. In France, it reached 20% in mid-2022, up from 14% in 2019. Similarly, demand for certified office space (confirmed requests) [AH1] accounted for 32% of the total in mid-2022, up from 30%. This suggests that the leasing market is increasingly turning to certified buildings.
Energy performance creates added value for a property related to the cost of energy and of compliance with future regulations. Poor energy performance is likely to have a negative impact on the profitability of construction and – even more so – refurbishment projects.
BREEAM deep dive: environmental performance criteria
Environmental certificates address all key environmental issues. BREEAM is very flexible, but its requirements can only be met through a very rigorous process.
BREEAM offers various levels of certification, depending on the number of points achieved in each category, including carbon emissions, low-impact design, adaptation to climate change, ecological value and biodiversity protection. Categories are subdivided into criteria, each involving specific requirements. Points are accumulated for each requirement met: the higher the score, the higher the level of certification.
Not all BREEAM criteria are weighted the same: some are worth more points than others. In addition, each category includes prerequisites that must be met to obtain the certificate at all.
Nowadays, buildings generally aim for a VERY GOOD rating or higher in the BREEAM system. Indeed, a GOOD rating or lower is deemed insufficient in relation to the cost involved. In addition, BREEAM standards are evolving, with regular updates making the specifications stricter.
BREEAM is growing in popularity in Europe and the Middle East, with over 100,000 buildings already certified and nearly 600,000 more in the certification process. The BRE certification body offers assessments at various stages of the projects. According to a factsheet of facility managers’ association IDET, a BREEAM Very Good certification can add 10-30% to the value of a newbuild project.
GSE, your trusted partner for BREEAM certification
GSE is here to assist you in the BREEAM certification process from your project’s earliest stages. We have built our strong experience by helping companies obtain their certificates since 2010.
Mediacovrac: the success story of a BREEAM Excellent-certified project
Handed over in 2021, our MEDIACOVRAC project in Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille, received BREEAM’s Excellent rating. This 70,000 m², temperature-controlled logistics warehouse has solar panels on its roof and a smart lighting system that adapts to the needs of each operator – for ideal comfort in use and optimised energy consumption. One of this project’s main features is its 1,683 m² open-plan office.
Find out more about the Mediacovrac project
*Source: French Ministry of the Environment.