How to Write a BREEAM Building User Guide

Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

How to Write a BREEAM Building User Guide

Following on from my previous post about the Do’s and Don’ts of writing a BREEAM Building User Guide, I have put together a summary of what we recommend should be included in the guide. This is not a definitive list as the content will vary from project to project. However, I hope that it will give you a good point from which to start.

Before starting to write your guide, it is worth considering whether it is a one off guide or whether you are intending to produce future guides for different developments. If you think that there is a chance that you will have to produce additional guides, then it is worth preparing a proper template for your guide. This may take some time to do, but, if it is done well, it will give you a tool which can be reused again and again.


The first thing to think about when producing your guide is the layout.

The guide should be kept short and light. The best way of doing this is to use headings, bullet points and pictures/diagrams. It is important to avoid large blocks of text and unnecessary detail. Also, remember a picture can speak 1000 words!

The guide should be designed for the following user groups (where relevant):

  • The building’s staff (or where relevant residents)
  • The non technical facilities management team/building manager
  • Other building users e.g. visitors / community users

This can be achieved by splitting the guide into individual sections or by splitting topics by user group. To make this simpler we generally divide topics up as follows:

  • Just Visiting (usually a separate section at the front of the guide)
  • At a Glance
  • In Depth

This enables information to be presented in a way which allows the reader to pick and choose what is relevant to them.


The BREEAM guidance under the New Construction 2011 scheme details what topics the guide should cover. Therefore it is important that your guide, as a minimum has the following sections:

Contents page:

This should confirm the topics which have been included and on which pages

Introduction/How to use the guide:

This should provide details of what the guide is for and how it works (i.e. if you are splitting the topics by user (see above) then explain what is relevant and to who).

Overview of the building and its environmental strategy:

This should be kept reasonably short but should details of how the building works in terms of layout and use, but should also briefly cover information on the buildings environmental strategy (e.g. energy/water/waste efficiency policy/strategy) and how users should engage with/deliver it.

Building services overview and access to controls:

This section should very definitely be split between building users/visitors and the building/facilities management.

For building users/visitors it should simply be limited to what they need to know (i.e. how to control the lighting/temperature/ventilation on a local scale, how to operate systems such as dual flush toilets etc and, if appropriate, some simple tips for using the building ‘out of hours’).

For building/facilities management, the guide should go into slightly more depth and should perhaps cover issues such as simple maintenance/replacement issues and the control of lighting/temperature/ventilation on a wider scale (i.e. for the whole building etc). However, it is important to remember that this is a non technical guide and therefore should not go into too much technical detail.

Pre-arrival information for visitors:

This section is predominately for visitors, but it is also useful for building users and or managers to know how to deal with visitors. This section should include brief details of the visitor management strategy including:

  • Transport (Including directions, parking and public transport policies)
  • Access (Including any access issues and signing in)
  • Facilities (Including details of any toilets, showers, canteens etc)
  • Shared Facilities (see below)

Provision of and access to shared facilities:

This section only applies where there are shared facilities within the development but should cover all aspects of how to use the shared facilities as follows:

  • How to book
  • What is available, to who and when
  • Access arrangement (in and out of hours)
  • Any other information (costs, available equipment etc).

Safety and emergency information / instructions:

This section should be split into user groups and, on a simple level, it should cover what to do in an emergency (i.e. location of fire muster points etc) and also confirm if and when alarms are to be routinely tested. For building managers, this section should also include information on fire marshalling and contact numbers of testing/maintenance companies like Firerite.

Building related operational procedures specific to building type/operation:

This section will vary from development to development, but could include special operational procedures for the use of laboratories, controlled spaces or any specialist access arrangements etc.

Building related incident reporting/feedback arrangements:

This section should be effectively split into a chain with details of how building users report problems to the building/facilities management and in turn how they deal with this and or pass it on to the relevant person.

Building related training information / links:

This section should provide details of what building training is available and who delivers it and when. In terms of the building/facilities management, this may include links to specialist outside companies (i.e. for building services operation etc).

Provision of and access to transport facilities:

This section should include details of what transport facilities are available, including:

  • Car/motorbike parking spaces (including information for disabled/car share only spaces)
  • Cyclist facilities (including details of any showers/lockers etc)
  • Provision of public transport (Including details of nearest stops/stations, destinations and timetables)
  • Contact details for taxi firms
  • Details of any green travel initiatives

Provision of and access to local amenities:

This section should provide details of local businesses and services relevant to the building users (i.e. cash machines, post boxes, grocery stores, chemists, medical centres etc) and include details on how find them (location maps etc).

Re-fit, refurbishment and maintenance arrangements/considerations:

This section is predominately for the building management and should include details for the maintenance and replacement of building services/fabric and also considerations for re-fitting/refurbishment of the development (e.g. the location of services and load bearing walls etc as well as access and fire considerations). Again this section should not be too technical and should refer back to the maintenance guides and O&M manuals.

Links, references and relevant contact details:

This section speaks for itself. However, it is important that it is limited to the relevant sections and isn’t ‘bulked out’ with general websites etc which are not directly relevant.

(NOTE: The above varies slightly to the BREEAM 2008 requirements and these should be checked and used if completing a BREEAM 2008 assessment.)


The above covers all of the BREEAM topics and requirements. In terms of format, the BRE do not specifically require the guide to be a hard copy and therefore it could just as easily be on a CD or a company’s intranet.

Hopefully the above will have provided you with sufficient knowledge to prepare your own building user guide. However, if you are still not confident or would just prefer someone else to prepare the guide, this is a service we can offer. Please feel free to contact us for further details. You can also learn all about Fourth Industrial Revolution here


  1. I like BREEAM, being a Newcastle University student here in England i tried opting for BREEAM assessment for some reference outcomes of my research. But i guess we need to be a BREEAM assessor in first place to do that. For future employment perspective will it be beneficial to undergo BREEAM assesor training just after my graduation? I am pursuing MSc in Renewable Energy and considering to enter sustainable construction industry for employment in England or anywhere in Europe. Could you comment on this please?
    Kanishk Upadhyaya

    • Hi Kanishk,
      It is good to hear that you are interested in working in the field of sustainable construction and that you are interested in BREEAM. With regards to your question about whether it would be beneficial for you to undergo BREEAM assessor training after graduation, my suggestion would be that you look for a graduate position which offers training and do a BREEAM course once you have got a job.

      There are a number of reasons why I would recommend this approach. These include the cost of the training course itself (£1,475 +VAT for a 3 day course); being able to supplement your knowledge by working on real projects and learning the practical implementation of the scheme from experienced colleagues.

      With regards to your query about using BREEAM in your research, there are a number of resources on the BREEAM website. These include the scheme guidance documents for the current and past schemes; access to pre-assessment estimator and a number of case studies. If you would like any additional advice, please contact us and we will see what we can do to help.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *