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Delivering Sustainable Buildings – a Review of the Cost Implications

The latest BREEAM Briefing Paper uses a speculative office building project that was the basis of a similar report three years ago to review the costs of sustainability today.

While the multitude of benefits associated with investing in sustainable development practices are increasingly being recognised, for all new construction projects there is always a bottom line impact to consider.

It is for this reason that a report exploring the cost implications of achieving BREEAM Very Good and Excellent assessment ratings has been undertaken.

The latest BREEAM Briefing Paper, titled “Delivering Sustainable Buildings: Savings and Payback – Office Case Study for BREEAM UK New Construction 2014”, uses a speculative office building project that was the basis of a similar report three years ago to review the costs of sustainability today.

The new work takes account of several factors including the increased energy performance demands of Building Regulations Part L2A and the updated assessment criteria of BREEAM UK New Construction 2014. It also examines the difference between BREEAM uplift costs for a building meeting London Plan energy requirements and the same building not so constrained.

The report is published by researchers at BREEAM and Currie & Brown, the leading international asset management and cost consultancy.

“This Briefing Paper gives developers an updated picture of the cost implications of sustainable development, says Gavin Dunn, Director at BRE, the operators of BREEAM. “Both capital and lifecycle costs are considered. In particular, lifecycle costs are examined in respect of energy strategies, and water consumption, including different water supply tariffs.”

The report found that the cost uplift of achieving BREEAM UK New Construction 2014 Excellent ratings is typically less than one per cent of the total construction cost. Analysis of additional costs associated with BREEAM certification at a high standard in terms of energy efficiency and water saving technologies also showed that these costs are relatively modest and that forecast paybacks are quick – typically less than five years for energy and less than two years for water.

Adam Mactavish, operations director at Currie & Brown, points out: “Achieving a high rating under BREEAM 2014 can incur additional costs, but these are less than 1% of the total construction cost. Moreover, long-term savings on energy and water are substantial.”

The challenge for developers and clients is to make sure they consider these issues at an early stage in the design process to secure the benefits and take advantage of a building’s potential to deliver high performance standards by operating them efficiently.

To download a copy of this report go to

Take a look at some of the most sustainable buildings in the world on the BREEAM Case Studies.