Why you need it

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) is a globally recognised certification. It gauges the sustainability of a building’s entire pipeline, from the first sketch to the finished product.

It’s done by using key consultants (like ecologists) to plan, manage and oversee core elements of the project’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance. 

Currently, BREEAM certification is voluntary. It’s a mandatory requirement, however, for many London-based Local Planning Authorities (LPAs). Many publicly funded and procured buildings are also required to be BREEAM-assessed and reach a minimum rating.

BREEAM has many separate elements that need to work together to achieve the desired outcome. The Ecology and Land Use section of the 2018 assessment contains five criteria:

LE01 – Recognising the reuse of previously developed and contaminated land where appropriate remediation has taken place
LE02 – Identifying and understanding the risks and opportunities for the project
LE03 – Managing impacts on ecology
LE04 – Change and enhancement of ecological value
LE05 – Long term ecology management and maintenance

What does the assessment involve?

A BREEAM assessment considers your site in two stages: pre-development and post-development.


  • Site visit – We’ll start with a baseline survey. A Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE) will conduct a Preliminary Ecological Assessment of your site. This’ll establish the habitat types present and their condition, using either the standard BREEAM methodology or the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric. We’ll map out the habitats and take on-site notes and photographs to document them and provide evidence of their condition. This assessment may also trigger Phase 2 reports as with any other development.
  • Baseline calculation – Once we have the information we need, we’ll calculate the current (pre-development) value of your site in ‘units’.


  • Post-development calculation – Using your proposed plans and landscaping scheme (if available), we’ll calculate the post-development units, factoring in any newly created habitats and those retained and enhanced. We’ll also take ‘target distinctiveness’ and ‘target condition’ into account, as well as the temporal, spatial and delivery risk of each habitat. This stage may involve discussions with other key consultants, and assessments of different planting schemes. We’ll then calculate the overall unit change as a percentage. The resulting output allows points to be given for the five criteria mentioned above. The more points, the more sustainable the building:
75–94Minimising loss
95–104No net loss for the habitats assessed
105–109Net gain for the habitats assessed
110 or aboveSignificant
Percentage Change in Biodiversity Units (%) Reward Level

Contact Darwin Ecology today for help with your BREEAM project.