skip to content

Environment and Energy


University Policy

The University’s new buildings are certified through BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), a comprehensive environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.

Cambridge’s BREEAM policy for new buildings is to achieve Excellent-rated buildings whenever it is feasible and cost-effective to do so, and to build to Very Good where Excellent is not seen to be cost-effective.

In the initial planning stages for new capital projects the decision of Very Good or Excellent is based on a comparison of cost. Where the decision is made not to target Excellent overall, the project is expected to achieve an Excellent rating in the energy and carbon category. The savings made from reducing the overall target from Excellent to Very Good must be spent on additional energy saving/carbon reduction features (in addition to those required to achieve Excellent in the energy and carbon category).

BREEAM assessments are not seen as appropriate for some projects. One current example is the Arup Building on the New Museums Site, which addressed sustainability issues through a bespoke Sustainability Plan. Developed by the Sustainability Consultant (Buro Happold) in consultation with EM, the design team and the various user groups, this approach has the support of the Local Planning Authority.

Background to BREEAM

BREEAM awards credits for different environmental features which are combined to achieve an overall score. BREEAM compliant buildings are certified on a five-point scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.

BREEAM is widely recognised both in the UK and internationally, with 250,000 buildings certified. It was launched in 1990 and is revised every 1-2 years to reflect developments in technology.

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks for different building types, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.