I’ve Started So I’ll Finish – University Challenge with BREEAM In-Use Pilot

By James Fisher, Principal Consultant at BRE

Further and Higher Education bodies are the focus of a new pilot that will enable them to build on learning from the commercial property sector. Following recent success in the evolution of a portfolio-scale approach focused on maximising operational and resource efficiency in buildings, University and college partners are invited to join BREEAM in the development of a new campus-level methodology.

‘Why does the industry just concentrate on large companies, when we have big sites and large bills too?’ said a new Higher Education contact of mine at a recent breakfast briefing. A fair point I thought. I’d just finished explaining to her about the new portfolio pilots that we’ve been conducting with real estate investors across Europe (see it as a mini BREntrance if you will!).

We have been testing different ways for investors to bring whole portfolios of property into BREEAM In-Use (BIU) certification in a cost and time-efficient way – the logic being that they can realise the commercial value of certification for their assets, increasing rental yield and decreasing voids.

But it was a fair challenge that she gave me, after all many assets across different locations is one thing, but what about many buildings on the same site? Both present a similar challenge in many ways, but for a campus or a slightly different approach is needed.

We need to consider and test how BIU works across whole campuses, where the assets might be very different in terms of their age, use and building systems but have similar management policies and practices rolled-out by the leadership team.

The sheer diversity of the assets will be a huge challenge, as well as the degree to which they have sub-metered energy and water use. Consider that the methodology will need to work for historic ‘Oxbridge-style’ buildings as much as modern purpose-built facilities and also be operable globally to maintain one of BIU’s key features, international comparability. A true academic challenge for the academics!

The good news is that we have already leapt over a couple of these hurdles in the previous pilot. We were lucky enough to have some very modern assets from both Wereldhave & Mercialys, whilst accessing some very historic sites via the City of Stockholm portfolio. So we have some learning to bring to bear already, but there is more to do.

A great point of difference with this pilot is that we can also get students involved, upskilling them on sustainability and construction as they learn to gather BIU assessment data at their host sites – a sort of bricks and mortarboard approach where every stakeholder sees a benefit through the process. Of course, it’s a win-win as the campuses will save some Assessor costs too if the students can help out.

So here it is. BRE will be conducting a new series of pilots around the use of BREEAM In-Use on campus sites and we want you and your organisation to get involved. If you’d love to understand more about the operational efficiency of your buildings whilst engaging with FM staff and students alike, then please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and are aiming to get things underway as soon as possible.

To get involved, contact me at james.fisher@bre.co.uk.