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BRE's acquisition of CEEQUAL scheme splits industry opinon

24 November 2015

News that the CEEQUAL rating scheme for civil engineering has been acquired by BRE Global, the organisation responsible for the BREEAM certification scheme, has been welcomed by some, but others fear that the loss of competition will reduce innovation. 

Under the arrangement CEEQUAL, which was launched by the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2003, will transfer its business operations to BRE Global, after which CEEQUAL will be delivered by the BREEAM certification team.

The BREEAM infrastructure certification, which was in the process of being piloted, along with the planned upgrade of CEEQUAL (Version 6), will form the basis of the future certification, with a unified standard due to launch in 2017.

According to BRE the move is a reaction to the “industry’s desire for a single sustainability rating scheme that addresses the challenges that infrastructure clients, professions and contractors currently face in delivering more sustainable and resilient infrastructure”.

The announcement was welcomed by Paul Toyne, group head of sustainability at Balfour Beatty, who told Construction Manager that competing schemes would have been a bad idea.

"The takeover is good news as the sensible thing to do is to have one scheme for infrastructure. Too many different standards and schemes can lead to confusion with clients not knowing which scheme to choose and raise costs."

Paul Toyne, Balfour Beatty

“The takeover is good news as the sensible thing to do is to have one scheme for infrastructure,” he said. “Certification schemes are important as they drive improvement, but they also need to be efficient and cost effective. Too many different standards and schemes can lead to confusion with clients not knowing which scheme to choose and raise costs as you need more capacity to train teams, stay informed of the many schemes and pay assessors and consultancy fees."

He continued: “To me, combining CEEQUAL and BREEAM is the logical way forward for the industry. The way to ensure that standards are maintained is not to have competing schemes, but to have one trusted standard, with consistent ways of measuring and reporting, that has the right governance and the right review process to drive improvement in the scheme itself, and through its deployment, improves the quality of the industry,” he concluded.

However, Gordon Brown, director of BREEAM assessor GB Sustainable Project Management, told CM that competition would have been good for the industry.

He said: “I do believe competition keeps the industry alert and compels it to adapt and improve. I would have liked to have seen BREEAM Infrastructure go live and the industry have that choice over which of the different schemes actually provides the best solution. BREEAM processes and metrics are very refined to the building process, while CEEQUAL is a little more flexible."

He added, "I hope that congregating all schemes under one roof does not remove any impetus to drive change and innovate solutions to the issues the industry faces now and into the future."

BRE will now launch an open pilot of its new BREEAM infrastructure methodology to verify the "science based metrics" being developed in the two-year project to combine the best of CEEQUAL with the BREEAM approach. During the transition period CEEQUAL will continue to operate as normal with the existing verifiers.

Brown is interested to see the results of this consultation. “BREEAM processes are very refined, which is suitable for buildings, while CEEQUAL is a little more flexible,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what comes out of the merger, and if BREEAM can produce something appropriate for huge civils projects.”

BRE chief executive Peter Bonfield added: “Our long-term aspiration with a single scheme is to bring together the significant experience and expertise behind the two rating systems to deliver enhanced environmental and social benefits for civil engineering works and better economic outcomes that benefit society, and broaden up-take in the UK and international markets.”

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