The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) is a widely adopted scheme for assessing the sustainability of buildings. The BREEAM scheme was first launched in 1990 and, at the time of writing, over 250,000 buildings have been certified around the world. Credits are awarded for different aspects of a building's design and construction. A total of ten credits are potentially available from the Land Use and Ecology section of the BREEAM scheme. Residential developments are covered by a different scheme, called the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH).

The Welsh Assembly Government requires an Excellent BREEAM rating or a minimum of a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3, together with 10% recycled content, for all new buildings. In some cases the ECO credits can make the difference between achieving a Good or an Excellent rating, with serious implications for the funding of a scheme.

The Land Use and Ecology section of the BREEAM or CSH assessment must be completed or verified by a 'Suitably Qualified Ecologist' (SQE). The SQE must have a degree in ecology or a related subject, have at least three years relevant experience in the last five years and be a full member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), the Landscape Institute (LI) or the Institute of Envionmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

It is absolutely essential that you have an ecological survey carried out before before you start clearing the ground for a BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Homes development.

The ecologist should be told beforehand that you intend to have a BREEAM or CSH assessment carried out, so that they can calculate the areas covered by the different types of vegetation. The ECO3 credit cannot be awarded if the ground has been cleared before the ecologist visits the site and it is obviously impossible to calculate the ECO4 credit if all of the vegetation has already been stripped and there is nothing remaining but an expanse of bare soil!

Cheshire Ecology Ltd has considerable experience of conducting ecological surveys for BREEAM and CSH assessments. We can supply a Suitably Qualified Ecologist and will liaise with your landscape architect to decide the best way to achieve the maximum number of ECO credits for your development. The company can also provide advice planting advice and recommend seed mixtures to achieve the ECO4 credits.

We will work with your contractor to mark out any areas of ecological value before the site is developed.

How do you maximise the number of ECO credits for your BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Homes assessment? Always have an ecological survey done before you start to develop a site. This will help you to gain the ECO3 and ECO4 credits.

IMG0214
IMG0288