When BRE rolled out BREEAM In-Use in America, it was to fill the gap of the 5.6 million existing buildings that were not being addressed with available green building rating systems. BREEAM In-Use doesn’t involve prerequisites so nearly any commercial building no matter what size, age or condition could benefit from using the program to improve building performance. As BRE America traveled across the States talking to stakeholders about BREEAM, we discovered that talking about how BREEAM was developed and the history of BRE was a really interesting part of the story.
BRE, a science organization and charitable trust that funds research to advance the built environment, has seen a huge change in the building industry since it started nearly a century ago. No other time in history compares to how rapidly the building industry is now evolving – think how long it took to go from building with animal hides to more durable materials like brick and concrete! BRE has been at the forefront of recognizing the urgent need for a total shift in the way we shape our built environment to not only deal with the consequences of climate change, but working in the new digital age of a global economy.
Green building has to be more than the shiny new materials or latest energy efficient HVAC system. Or even a green building certification. Sure, these things are part of the picture, but only a piece of the puzzle to move us successfully into the next century.
Climate change is already having significant implications for the built environment with increasing risk to buildings, energy, transport, ICT and infrastructure. All the science indicates that the built environment will be increasingly affected by extreme weather events – now occurring more frequently and with greater severity.
BRE has supported the building industry in the measurement, reduction and mitigation of the impacts of climate change with research and development for many years and in 2014 launched the BRE Centre for Resilience. Since its inception, the BRE Center for Resilience has worked to identify the critical issues to develop and improve homes, buildings and structures for the future and using science to develop new standards and create the next generation of resilient materials, products, designs and innovations that will ensure the longevity of our built environment.
In 2015 the United Kingdom took a worldwide leadership position by passing into law the Modern Slavery Act to combat trafficking and slavery. In response, BRE developed the ethical labor standard after spearheading a large stakeholder group including clients, manufacturers, NGOs and contractors with complex international supply chains to make sure their new standard would be relevant and drive positive change within the industry.
BRE’s Ethical Labor Sourcing Standard takes you a step further than the Modern Slavery Act by committing businesses to adopt the principles of ethical labor sourcing in relation to products and services, and to actively identify and eradicate the exploitation of vulnerable workers over time. The verification approach allows organizations to develop their ethical labor sourcing practices in a manner that is risk-based and enabling them to demonstrate continual improvement against a set of benchmarks.
Which takes me back to why the time is right for BRE America to bring BREEAM New Construction to the US market. Back in November 2017 we partnered with HOK to help bring a new solution to their US based real estate clients looking to achieve lower carbon and other sustainability targets. HOK has used BREEAM extensively with their UK and European based clients and wanted to be able to offer the program in America. Now with continued support from HOK, the team at BRE America is excited to be bringing the BREEAM New Construction standard to the USA in 2019.
Why are we so excited? Because BREEAM is not just another green building rating system. BREEAM is part of BRE. And BRE is changing the built environment for tomorrow as we build a better world together.