BREEAM, LEEDS and Estidama - A Comparison

Published: 22nd March 2011
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Today, if you want your organisation to make a mark you have to wear your green certification on the sleeve. If you have it, you are actually giving a boost to your credibility and if you do not have it, well, you are taking a big risk. You must be seen as being concerned about the safety of the planet; even the buildings you work from need to be environment friendly.

Environmental certification for buildings started in 1991 with the launch of Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method OR BREEAM. From a small 19-page guide containing 27 credits, BREEAM certification has progresses to an imposing 350-page technical document with 105 credits. Certification is granted by British Research Establishment (BRE) on the basis of the report submitted by trained assessors.

BREEAM enjoyed a monopoly of sorts till The United States Green Building Council US-GBC) launched its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 1998. The basis of certification is almost similar to BREEAM except for the fact that a credit is available if an accredited professional is hired for gathering evidence and advice. The accredited professional submits a report and US-GBC issues a certificate to the effect.

Estidama, on the other hand, is not a green rating system like LEED or BREEAM. It is a building design methodology developed by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Authority and a collection of ideas that are imposed in the format of a building code. It is the Pearl Rating System within Estidama that is a green rating system used to assess sustainable building development practices in Abu Dhabi.

There seems to be a general feeling among companies that it is easier to comply with the standards set by LEED. That may not be fully true because environmental sustainability is specific to the region in which is building is being constructed. For example, a design element or a product that is good for a building in the US may not be so in the United Kingdom. If someone understands LEED and wants to build according to US standards, it may not be what is actually required according to the UK climate, building legislation or how the building functions.

In the background of a society that is becoming increasingly aware about carbon emissions, there is an overall rethink of traditional materials as well. Each material used in the construction industry is not under the microscope and is being re-examined on the touchstone of sustainability. For example, efforts are being made to limit the use of asbestos to the bare minimum. There is a clamp down on contractors who are unable to provide evidence that proper surveys have been carried out from the aspect of sustainability. In addition, there is a concerted effort worldwide to develop and promote new environment friendly products such as Fermacell.

Fermacell is a dry lining board from Xella. It is a multipurpose fibre board made from 100% recycled products. Made from 80% recyclable gypsum board and 20% cellulose fibres derived from recyclable paper mixed with water, it is an extremely environment friendly dry lining board that can be used as an alternate to gypsum board. It is also recommended for its better properties of fire protection, better acoustics, and moisture and impact resistance. It is a versatile product that can be used on ceilings, walls or flooring.

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