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The effect of BREEAM on clients and construction professionals

Schweber, L. ORCID: (2013) The effect of BREEAM on clients and construction professionals. Building Research and Information, 41 (2). pp. 1-17. ISSN 1466-4321

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2013.768495


The effects and influence of the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Methods (BREEAM) on construction professionals are examined. Most discussions of building assessment methods focus on either the formal tool or the finished product. In contrast, BREEAM is analysed here as a social technology using Michel Foucault’s theory of governmentality. Interview data are used to explore the effect of BREEAM on visibilities, knowledge, techniques and professional identities. The analysis highlights a number of features of the BREEAM assessment process which generally go unremarked: professional and public understandings of the method, the deployment of different types of knowledge and their implication for the authority and legitimacy of the tool, and the effect of BREEAM on standard practice. The analysis finds that BREEAM’s primary effect is through its impact on standard practices. Other effects include the use of assessment methods to defend design decisions, its role in both operationalizing and obscuring the concept of green buildings, and the effect of tensions between project and method requirements for the authority of the tool. A reflection on assessment methods as neo-liberal tools and their adequacy for the promotion of sustainable construction suggests several limitations of lock-in that hinder variation and wider systemic change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:31137
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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