Simulation key for BREEAM 2018

By Niall Gibson on Monday 1 October 2018

Eight years ago, BREEAM officially launched as the World’s first Sustainability Assessment Method for Buildings. Today, with over 2.2m Buildings registered, in over 70 countries, BREEAM has become commonplace. If you are an Architect, Engineer or Contractor in the UK it’s highly probable you will at some point be involved with a project which is subject to BREEAM.

This is all very well, but what does this have to do with Simulation and why were IES and IESVE users discussing this at our Faculty last month? Let’s have a look:

52 Credits!
As BREEAM has evolved over the years, more credits in all categories are analysis based, meaning that using simulation tools like IESVE are essential to achieve those credits. You can potentially achieve up to 52 credits (see here to find out which credits can be achieved) for BREEAM UK NC 2018. It’s not just BREEAM UK but as IESVE complies with standards all over the world you can use IESVE for other regional schemes too. In terms of a single solution to support BREEAM, we're not aware of anything that comes close to IESVE.

Informing Design for better buildings!
It’s not just about the analysis which IESVE covers, it’s the approach in the way IESVE does it. You may have noticed in VE2017 the ability to step back from singular simulation to run multiple simulations (Parametric & Optimisation). This was a key development for informing building design, with many BREEAM credits such MAT01 LCA demanding option appraisals, being able to automate this within the VE is a win!

Partnership with OneClickLCA
When BREEAM UK NC 2018 launched at Ecobuild this year, one of the key changes was MAT01 Life Cycle Assessment, with a credit potential rating rising to 10 credits – almost on par with Ene01 at 13 credits. Previously MAT01 was a credit which could be avoided (more to do with lack of knowledge than anything else) in favour of other more traditional credits. With such a heavy weighting in 2018, no project can afford to miss MAT01, doing so would immediately increase the risk on the project. Luckily there’s no need for avoidance as IES offer an easy solution to MAT01. IESVE recently announced our partnership with OneClickLCA, a brilliant tool allowing compliance not just with MAT01, but others too.

Interestingly at the faculty the question was raised, could you have a sustainable building without LCA? We decided the answer is no. As an industry we are very fixated on operational energy, but the embodied carbon of our buildings continues to grow and can often outweigh the associated carbon emissions of operation over a 60 year life time. (Source: UKGBC: Embodied Carbon: Developing a Client Brief) To have a sustainable building, yes of course we need to consider operational energy but there is a reason BREEAM isn’t just one credit, there are other factors we need to consider too, including the impacts of our material choices.

More than the VE, IES TaP!
It’s not just about IESVE either, IES also have a fantastic tool to support the BREEAM assessor with their project. www.IESTaP.com is the leading BREEAM assessor management tool. Covering all BREEAM assessments, BREEAM assessors can benefit from automating much of their project management and focus on assessing the evidence. Those that use it, swear by it.

We realise that as a designer it’s challenging just to deliver on the core design and it’s easy to have the view that environmental assessments such as BREEAM are an additional requirement you’d rather do without. One comment I hear often is that there just isn’t room within the fees to fully get behind the ethos of the assessment. I don’t agree with this on two points: Firstly additional services should be made clear from the start and secondly by utilising IES technologies you can benefit from doing more, in less time. BREEAM, with IES, will increase revenue.

As designers it’s not entirely about cost or fees, but about delivering the best project, not just for the client, but for the occupants that use it. As Dr Flavie Lowres (BRE) pointed out at the Faculty, when looking at the costs of a building, 1% - Energy, 9% - Rental, 90% are the staff that occupy it, and it’s this that is the focus of both IES and BREEAM. Incorporating the correct technologies and methodologies into our design processes will only have a positive outcome, not just our buildings or its occupants, but our industry as a whole.

If you missed our IES Faculty on the 13th Sept, there’s another chance to hear from the speakers. Join Niall and guest speakers on the 25th Oct 2018 at 12pm for our IES Faculty Webinar. Register to attend HERE.