UK Building Research Establishment (BRE) has initiated a new assessment scheme for evaluating environmental credentials of international refurbishment and fit-out projects.

The worldwide Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) scheme has been enhanced with the introduction of BREEAM International Refurbishment & Fit-Out (RFO).

Launch of BREEAM International RFO came after the success of a similar programme in the UK, and was backed by extensive industry consultations.

The UK version involved multiple refurbishment and fit-out projects ranging from central London office blocks and shops, such as the famous Foyles bookshop, to out-of-town superstores, which have all been rated under the scheme.

"Improving existing buildings presents difficult challenges, the BREEAM RFO assessment scheme recognises these by being sufficiently flexible."

BREEAM International RFO scheme manager Sarah Summerson said: "BREEAM International RFO provides a tailored version of the scheme that can assess refurbishment and fit-out projects all over the world, by taking account of the range of local and regional standards, conditions and climates.

"Whereever they are, improving existing buildings presents difficult challenges, the BREEAM RFO assessment scheme recognises these by being sufficiently flexible to assess projects against the issues that each can reasonably be expected to influence."

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The scheme takes a four-part modular approach for evaluation. While the first deals with the building fabric and structure, the second measures core services such as a centralised mechanical and electrical plants. The third deals with local services and the fourth covers assessment of interior design.

Refurbishment and fit-out projects are to be evaluated against one or all of the four parts, in any combination deemed relevant to the individual project. This approach provides flexibility for full or partial-assessment of a structure.

BREEAM International RFO will apply this to buildings under consideration, which will include offices, retail facilities, industrial buildings, schools, universities, hotels, and other short-stay accommodation.

"Sustainable refurbishment and fit-out has numerous benefits for the end-client, including reduced running costs and a healthier working environment for occupiers," Summerson added.