BREEAM In-Use measures energy efficiency in actual practice to help target improvements to existing stock

Designing energy-efficient buildings is one thing, making sure they live up to their credentials is another. At this year's Ecobuild, BRE will launch BREEAM In-Use, which it hopes will provide the answer.

As the latest in BRE's suite of environmental assessment tools, BREEAM In-Use has been created to ensure buildings are run as efficiently as possible and provide a route for owners and occupiers to assess and improve the environmental performance of existing buildings.

According to Martin Townsend, director of BREEAM, it has been developed to recognise and encourage better building management and to target investment in existing building stock.

The tool has been devised as an on-line application - in part to encourage its uptake - and will enable users to self-assess their buildings. The exercise can be part of an existing BREEAM assessment or carried out on buildings not previously rated.

It will assess:

  • The building's asset performance - its performance characteristics based on form and construction
  • Building management performance, in other words management practices affecting operation of the building and consumption of energy and water, such as occupancy patterns
  • Organisational effectiveness and how well management policies are implemented.

EDF Energy has been involved in the development of the tool and has piloted it on nine buildings in its property portfolio. The firm has a commitment to cut energy use in its properties 30% by 2012 and according to Paul Riddlesden, company energy manager, the tool can help in establishing benchmarks and where best to spend money on improvements.

The energy company assessed a number of its buildings throughout the UK, ranging in age from sixties-built properties to those from 1995. “It took us 12 days to do nine buildings; though bear in mind this was a pilot project,” says Riddlesden.

He says EDF hopes to use the tool further. “It's not always practical to knock down existing buildings and start again; we will use the tool to inform decision making”.

BREEAM In-Use also has a function where hypothetical changes can be made to the data and the knock-on effect to the rating assessed. “This will give facilities managers a chance to build the business case for improvements,” says Townsend.

However, one of the most valuable things that could come from the launch of BREEAM In-Use is the database that will be built up of how buildings are actually performing. “It will enable up-to-date benchmarks to be set,” says Townsend. It should also enable some figures to be put to the relationship between sustainability and rental prices.