BREEAM Communities.

12. 09. 2022

BREEAM Communities

Worldwide recognized certification schemes such as BREEAM and LEED are complex tools to assess new constructions, refurbishments, and fit-outs. For an even more detailed indoor environment quality assessment, WELL certification has been developed. But let’s step outside for a while – is there a tool to assess and improve the urban design and site-wide developments? Meet BREEAM Communities, a scheme suitable for international assessment of neighbourhoods, using the Bespoke process based on appropriate standards relevant to the country, sustainability impacts, and local context.

Regarding the type and scale of development, 20 hectares in the countryside have different outreach than the same area in Prague, so local context is crucial. The scheme can be applied on large mixed and single-used developments or smaller-scale developments (housing estates, retail or business parks), if their role and impact go beyond the site boundary with significant improvement to existing communities. BREEAM Communities scheme is divided into three parts based on development phasing – from principles establishment, through layout to details design. Each project must pass mandatory standards in the interim stage to continue with the final assessment to achieve the overall picture and targeted level.

The standard of buildings themselves has improved a lot over the last decade, however much of the public realm gets behind. To walk on muddy pathways in lawns instead of proper sidewalks is no exception. Or there is no suitable space for waste separation, or even better, blatant colorful overfilled containers dominate the public squares. All the sudden ended cycle lanes where cyclists better learn to fly. Parking lots dominating streets and squares. The list can go on.

“Complex overview and multi-functionality are essential,” says Vendula Betakova, the first BREEAM Communities Assessor in Czechia at Arcadis, and adds, “using BREEAM Communities, we can set sustainable goals and multi-functional solutions through the entire masterplan and save future resources by reducing life cycle replacement and facilities management costs significantly. We need to look at neighbourhoods comprehensively to interconnect all design disciplines.”

This scheme provides guidelines to create vibrant spaces and streets, emphasizing microclimate, green spaces, attractive and safe urban design with easy access and maintenance. Sustainable drainage system and parking, ecology enhancement, architecture, materials, genius loci, and much more create a final picture of how we perceive the urban space.

High-quality urban design should consider all potential users of the public realm as well as surrounding buildings. Easy orientation on how to get there, parking availability and safe walking and cycling are a must. Amenities such as sports facilities, spaces for relaxation, food provision, healthcare, school facility, and many more are basic stones to establish complex communal shared spaces. A sustainable energy concept to provide utilities is also as much important.

“Regarding the master planning, many specialists and stakeholders are engaged in the approval process. However, a single party rarely solves waste management, rainwater harvesting, climate change, carbon footprint or durability of materials used at the same time in the public realm. But we in Arcadis do. We constantly focus on improving the quality of life and without any doubt, the urban environment we live in has one of the most significant impacts on our lives. Adding BREEAM Communities certification to our services, we are one step closer to sustainable cities”, adds Vendula Betakova.

In Czech context first Communities projects are on the horizon.