BREEAM Champions DOE’s Net Zero Building Definition, Advancing Sustainable Practices for a Decarbonized Future

BREEAM Champions DOE’s Net Zero Building Definition, Advancing Sustainable Practices for a Decarbonized Future

The Biden Administration, recognizing the critical impact of buildings on the environment, has taken an essential step toward a more sustainable future with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement of a new national definition for net zero buildings. BRE, the world leading, multi-disciplinary, building science organization behind BREEAM, is proud to support this initiative, which aligns closely with our decades-long mission to promote sustainability, resilience, and emission reductions across the global buildings sector. This definition will serve as a vital tool and market driver for the adoption of sustainable best practices and meaningful decarbonization strategies.

As a science-backed, data-driven standard, BREEAM has been committed to addressing the impact of buildings’ carbon emissions on the environment and global warming since the standard’s launch in 1990 as the first green building certification program in the world. We are proud to share that BREEAM USA In-Use Version 6, our standard for existing buildings, already awards credits on the basis of carbon emissions — which strongly encourages building owners to focus on deep energy efficiency, being free of on-site combustion and powered by on-site renewables. Our holistic approach also encourages asset owners to look beyond carbon to find solutions that deliver additional benefits that drive value and bolster the business case for decarbonization. 

BREEAM Version 7 (V7), the next evolution of the BREEAM family of standards for buildings, will focus on whole-life carbon and energy issues and will result in updates to the New Construction, In-Use, and Refurbishment and Fit-Out standards. This version introduces several significant improvements designed to drive enhanced environmental performance and financial value for investors, including aligning carbon measurement metrics across all BREEAM standards to ensure consistent and comparable data throughout a building’s lifecycle. 

Additionally, BREEAM V7 emphasizes the value of performance-based metrics — including both embodied and operational carbon — encouraging optimization across the building lifecycle. Leveraging these metrics, platform users are provided with a clear framework showing a building’s performance toward achieving net zero carbon. This ultimately enables better decision-making and carbon performance tracking, as well as improved sustainable reporting, as BREEAM V7 integrates with several prominent reporting frameworks.

Looking toward BREEAM V7 and beyond, we welcome the continuation of ongoing federal leadership that underscores our own efforts to foster sustainability and decarbonization throughout the built environment. We believe this latest definition will serve as a crucial benchmark for the industry, helping not only owners and operators but also financial stakeholders, building occupants, and insurers to better evaluate climate risks and align strategies with national and global sustainability goals.

As a pioneer in green building standards, BREEAM will continue in its role as a leading holistic assessment platform that evaluates a wide range of sustainability metrics across an asset’s lifecycle, including resiliency and health & wellness amid key environmental categories. 

We are eager to continue collaborating with industry stakeholders to further refine and promote sustainability guidelines, driving meaningful progress toward a more sustainable future. Together, we can achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector — supporting the broader goal of decarbonizing the U.S. economy by 2050 — and BREEAM is excited to contribute to this transformative journey.

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