BREEAM In-Use burst onto the U.S. green building scene in 2016, and BRE, in partnership with LEED consultancy group BuildingWise, offered up the program and its self-assessment tools as a cost-conscious alternative to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification, which BRE framed as expensive and time-consuming. The company said other certification programs didn’t cover the kind of buildings it was targeting but that it was important to monitor and measure their performance levels no matter the age, size or current state of sustainability.
The Oaks retail center in Thousand Oaks, California, was the first U.S. property to earn BREEAM In-Use certification. The 1.3-million-square-foot building, which was built in 1978, was retrofitted with solar panels, LED lighting, efficient HVAC equipment, a mixed recycling system and updated thermal controls.
Before its first building was certified, BRE began exploring collaborations with other certification programs and entered into an agreement with the International WELL Building Institute to identify areas where their two systems overlapped, making it easier for building owners to achieve certification from both. WELL focuses on occupant health and wellbeing and incorporates features like nontoxic finishes, healthy food options, circadian lighting and design — e.g. stair placement, office layout — that promotes movement throughout the day.