BREEAM vs LEED Certification: Environmental Rating Systems Explained

Both BREEAM and LEED stand as globally recognised certification programs. Their job is to assess the overall environmental impact of a building and its construction, and offer an official rating based on several key factors.

In this article, we’ll unpack exactly what BREEAM and LEED ratings are, how they can be obtained, and which you should choose for your platform lift project.

Before we can explore the main differences, it is first essential to understand exactly what each rating system is in its own right.

What is BREEAM?

The Building Research Establishment Environment Assessment Method (BREEAM) was created in 1990 by the UK’s Building Research Establishment (BRE). The assessment method itself determines the overall environmental performance rating of a building project’s master plan.

The ratings a project can receive are as follows:

  • Unclassified (1–10)
  • Acceptable (11–24)
  • Pass (25–39)
  • Good (40–54)
  • Very Good (55–69)
  • Excellent (70–84)
  • Outstanding (85+)

These seven ratings are calculated after several variables are assessed, and marked percentages are weighted differently depending on the importance of the variable. Below are the areas that BREEAM assesses in a construction plan and the corresponding percentages:

  • Water (6%)
  • Waste (7.5%)
  • Transport (8%)
  • Pollution (10%)
  • Land Use and Ecology (10%)
  • Management (12%)
  • Materials (12.5%)
  • Health and Wellbeing (15%)
  • Energy Emissions (19%)

What is LEED?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was created slightly later, in 1993, by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Like BREEAM, LEED is recognised internationally as a trustworthy certification system that rates a construction project in its ability to:

  • Reduce contribution to global climate change
  • Enhance individual human health
  • Protect and restore water resources
  • Protect and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Promote sustainable and regenerative material cycles
  • Enhance community quality of life

Once these factors have been evaluated, a rating is determined. Unlike BREEAM’s seven possible certifications, LEED has four:

  • Certified (40–49 points)
  • Silver (50–59 points)
  • Gold (60–79 points)
  • Platinum (80+ points)

What Is the Difference?

Although both certifications are a sign that a building project is environmentally sound and hitting the standard for sustainable construction, they do have some notable differences.

We have used the table below to better illustrate the two assessors in relation to each other.

Created in the UK. Predominantly used there and across Europe.Created in the US, and has more of a global reach in its use.
Accreditation is achieved with the help of a consultant and later an appraiser, who will check the master plan for a project.Accreditation is achieved with the help of the project team, who formulate documentation to send to the USGBC.
Rating thresholds are quantitative.Rating thresholds are percentage based.
Rigorous assessment process.Simple assessment process.
Certificates are awarded twice, once for the project plan and then again once it has been completed.Certificates are awarded once, right after the project has been completed.
Flexible system with considered variables.Very strict requirements in order to pass.

Which Is Better?

BREEAM and LEED are rating systems that determine whether a building emphasises green values, ahead of its operational reality. So, with both, there is some level of improvised estimation.

The question of which is better is best answered by where your project sits geographically. Here in the UK, we favour the BREEAM rating system. But LEED is certainly making big steps across the industry, with a global reach.

Ultimately, both of these certifications represent a dedication to sustainable development across a project.

Do You Need a BREEAM Rating for Your Lift Project?

Although BREEAM certifications are not mandatory, they are still a vital way of monitoring the environmental performance of a project. Our range of lifts has been designed with BREEAM specifications in mind – and we have worked hard to ensure all of our platform lifts are as sustainable as possible.

To find out more about how BREEAM relates to platform lifts, check out our dedicated BREEAM guide.