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BRE has unveiled plans to undertake a pilot project to measure the real-world health and well-being of building occupants by creating the Healthy Research Building – the UK’s first operational workplace research environment.

The project will see BRE refurbish one of its existing office buildings at its head office in Watford and create a fully operational office that will enable occupants to be monitored whilst they go about their day-to-day work. The aim of the project is to enable BRE to research the impact of indoor environments on human health and well-being whilst generating evidence-based information that can be used in practical ways to create healthier indoor spaces.

It follows the announcement that the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) and BRE are pursuing alignments between the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) and BREEAM that will make it easier for projects pursuing both standards.

The building, currently home to 60 members of staff, will be reconfigured into BRE’s Healthy Research Building and will form part of the company’s Innovation Park. The refurbishment will pursue BREEAM and WELL certifications and once work has been completed staff will be allowed to freely use the office whilst being monitored using advanced sensor technology and remote monitoring. Data relating to the health and well-being of the staff will then be analysed by BRE with the view of providing the industry with a greater understanding of how different products, materials and internal configurations affect occupants.

“It has been claimed that we spend over 90% of our time indoors and in an office environment, 90% of the cost is the people inside,” commented Martin Townsend, Director of Sustainability at BRE Global. “It is therefore vital that we better understand the effects that indoor environments are having on their occupants. By refurbishing one of our offices to achieve BREEAM and the WELL Building Standard and integrating state- of-the-art monitoring technology we will be creating the UK’s first living laboratory.”

In addition to creating the Healthy Research Building, BRE are calling upon the industry to help participate in the project through the undertaking of specific product testing to ascertain the impacts on occupant health and well-being.

“The health and well-being agenda is such an important part of our sustainable built environment and something that needs to be industry inclusive,” continued Martin. “As such, we don’t just want to research our own staff to drive this agenda, we want to work with the industry to create an inclusive agenda on research. To ensure we actively undertake the research that the industry needs we’re calling on the industry to work with us on an industry supported health and well-being research programme.”

The announcement comes at a time when the industry is increasingly looking at the importance of occupant well-being and the realisation that there is a huge gap in understanding how the built environment impacts biological sustainability as opposed to just environmental. The alignment between BREEAM and WELL will now provide a more cohesive approach to delivering projects that place sustainability and occupant health and well-being at the top of the agenda, and the Healthy Research Building will ensure that real-world data can be ascertained to help make informed decisions.

For more information on BREEAM visit: www.breeam.com and on WELL visit: www.wellcertified.com

Study shows typical BREEAM Excellent building saves in excess of 30% CO2.

A new briefing paper gives an overview of sustainability standard BREEAM’s contribution to global carbon reduction in buildings. Published during global climate change conference COP21, the paper also gives details of how BREEAM has evolved since the standard was created 25 years ago and how it might develop in future so it continues to challenge the industry to go beyond standard practice.

The paper includes an analysis of assessment data (from 2011 onwards) shows that BREEAM assessed buildings achieve an average 22% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to buildings designed to regulatory minimum performance requirements. BREEAM Excellent buildings save more than 30% and Outstanding rated buildings in excess of 50%. To date over 530,000 building and homes have applied the standard in over 70 countries around the world.

‘On Monday over 150 world leaders gathered in Paris to discuss how to drive down carbon emissions and manage rising temperatures due to climate change. Given that buildings and homes together account for over 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, it’s more important than ever that standards like BREEAM are used to drive down emissions and reduce running costs over the life time of a building.’ said Director of BREEAM Gavin Dunn.

The paper says that one of the main aims of the BREEAM energy strategy moving forward is to strengthen the links between schemes covering different life cycle stages, with a particular focus on the relationship between the New Construction and In-Use schemes, and opportunities for addressing the ‘performance gap’.

This week BRE made a pledge to reduce further reduce CO2 emissions over the next 5 years by 900,000 tonnes, by certifying a further 9000 commercial buildings to the BREEAM standard. This pledge, together with other pledges from leading organisations in the built environment, forms part of the “Collective Commitment” created by the World Green Building Council as part of COP21.

Copies of the paper and details of BRE’s BREEAM pledge are available at www.breeam.com/cop21.