What is the difference between LEED and BREEAM systems?

What is the difference between LEED and BREEAM systems? Which one is more effective?

Certification of buildings in Russia

LEED and BREEAM certification systems for green buildings have become popular in Russia. In this article we will talk about their similarities and differences. At the moment, about 100 buildings and premises have already been certified according to LEED and BREEAM schemes.


Development of certification systems

There is a LEED system, it is American. There is BREEAM, which is English. Initially, the BREEAM system was invented, somewhere in the 90th year, and then the Americans took this idea and made the LEED system. The first LEED building appeared in 1998 – only 8 years after the creation of the BREEAM system. Technically, these two systems are 70-80% similar, we conducted a deep comparison according to technical criteria. They are constantly improving and taking the best world practices in the design, construction and operation of buildings. But the approach to building certification is very different.


Features of LEED certification

In the LEED system, the design and construction of the building is handled by the project team (usually with the involvement of a LEED consultant). The team itself can register the project, take into account the requirements of LEED standards, and prepare documentation. She forms a package of project documentation and sends it via the Internet to the USA, where an examination is carried out in various sections. This procedure is similar to our Russian one: a group of experts on energy efficiency, on air, on water, on infrastructure check this documentation and then give their comments in the form of advice or ask to clarify and supplement the information and award the criterion “completed \not completed” or “information required”. When the object is built, the same examination of the construction documentation takes place, according to the results of which a certificate with a certain level is issued.

The nuance of the LEED system is that there are very strict mandatory requirements that are necessary for execution – otherwise the building will not be considered green. If the building is not energy efficient, or the internal air quality will not meet the standard, there is insufficient ventilation, or if smoking is allowed in the building. Also, if massive pollution was allowed during the construction process, the building will not be considered green. All engineering systems of the building must work correctly and properly, being checked by an independent acceptance expert. The building should also save water.

In addition to the mandatory criteria, there are many additional ones for which points are given: bicycle parking, a green roof, a charging station for a car, natural lighting. The project team already has a lot of room for creativity here.

Detailed information about the LEED system is described in the following article:



Features of BREEAM certification

BREEAM has a different approach, and if there are similarities with LEED according to technical criteria, then the processes differ significantly. BREEAM has the concept of an “appraiser”, and when a project is developed (usually with the involvement of a BREEAM consultant), it is checked by an appraiser – one person, not a group of experts. The appraiser acts very formally: he is provided with documents to verify compliance with the established criteria, and if everything is in order, he approves them. The appraiser appears twice – at the design stage and at the stage of putting the object into operation. Based on the results of the verification of compliance with the criteria, he prepares a report, which is then sent to the UK for a selective audit. A certificate is issued based on the evaluation results. It is important to note that in the BREEAM system, the certificate is issued twice (for the project itself and upon its completion), in LEED, the certificate is issued once upon completion of the object.

BREEAM as a system is more flexible. There are mandatory requirements, but they are much simpler compared to LEED. At the same time, the higher the level of certification, the more requirements. For example, at the minimum level, one of the mandatory conditions is: so that the fluorescent lamps are high-frequency and do not flicker. This is very easy to do, because all modern equipment does not flicker. In general, the system is more flexible, you can not make the building very energy efficient, but you can make it more favorable in terms of air quality, or landscaping or green materials. By fulfilling alternative criteria, you can still get a certificate, although with a limitation on the level of certification.


Author: Ilya Zavaleev, Green Engineer, LEED and BREEAM expert