BREEAM USA – Interview with Barry Giles

In this episode 52 of the AEC Business podcast I interview Barry Giles, CEO of BREEAM USA. We talk about BREEAM In-Use, a sustainability rating system for existing buildings. It has entered the American marketplace as a localized version, BREAAM USA In-Use.

Here’s how BREEAM USA describes BREEAM In-Use:

Barry Giles“In 2009, BRE Global developed BREEAM In-Use (BiU), the scheme which just launched this year in the US. It is an assessment and certification process designed to help building owners, facilities managers, investment managers and building occupiers measure and reduce environmental impacts and improve the performance of existing commercial buildings in a cost-effective and low-risk way.

The scheme, although tailored for use in the US, employs international best practices that are applicable to any building. It employs a dynamic scoring platform and reporting section to enable the user to track and improve the performance of their building, and a common set of questions to allow an entire portfolio of assets to be compared with each other no matter where they are located. Buildings that initially score a low overall assessment rating have the opportunity to make future year-on-year improvements and buildings that score high in their initial ratings can strive to maintain their rating by making on-going improvements. It also builds on internal review processes to achieve optimal results in building performance and management. It has a structure that enables the standard to be adaptable to future changes and regulatory requirements.

To save on costs, the program is broken down into three parts: an assessment of the environmental performance of a building, the operations of the building, and how clients (occupiers) are managing their activities within the building. Owners or property managers can choose to complete one, two – or all three parts. What certification provides is market recognition by proving the building achieved the assessment score and deserves the BREEAM rating. Yearly re-certification confirms on-going commitment to achieving higher performing best practices.

With budgets being such a concern, BREEAM Building In-Use (BIU) is designed to be very friendly on the pocketbook. Once the initial registration fee of just $1,000 has been paid, access to the online measurement portal is available for a full year. It also provides guidance on what can be improved within available budgets to improve the building’s score. This is well below comparable systems’ costs, not to mention the barriers to entry are much, much lower – there are no prerequisites to receiving a building score or to achieving certification.

Really you only need to become fully certified to prove to investors, regulators, potential lessors, the general public, and other stakeholders that your asset is performing how you claim. A third-party independent assessor must be hired to complete certification, but is by no means required. However, if you want to tout your achievements in the news, we strongly recommend complete certification.”

The first project to receive BREEAM certification in the USA is The Bloc in downtown Los Angeles (seen in the post title image, courtesy of BREEAM USA).

To learn more about BREEAM USA, visit

Listen to the interview (also in iTunes)

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