Boosting your BREEAM, CEEQUAL or HMQ scores for your sustainable development

BREEAM, CEEQUAL or Home Quality Mark assessments are often a requirement for planning consent and, where relevant, can help to demonstrate to stakeholders your credentials as an environmentally responsible developer.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is internationally renowned for its assessment of buildings’ sustainability performance, from their design and construction to their operation. CEEQUAL (Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment & Award Scheme) is a sustainability rating scheme for infrastructure, offering assessments and rewards. For residential developments, there is the independent HMQ (Home Quality Mark), which assesses both the sustainability and quality of a house.

Ecology and the importance of early stage planning

Ecological measures should be taken at the first stages of planning to maximise their impact. This is particularly important when you consider that having good ecological credentials can contribute up to 13% of BREEAM credits and nearly 9% of those required for a CEEQUAL award.

All three types of assessment are based on a report about the ecology of a site’s surroundings, usually gathered at the very beginning of the planning application process. If the site was developed a number of years previously, the site’s ecological status will also have to be verified. Once completed, this report is then submitted to a managing assessor for evaluation.

Assessing your site’s ecological impact

During the CEEQUAL, HMQ and BREEAM assessments, the building is evaluated against the relevant bodies’ established benchmarks, which take into account the site’s use as well as its specification, design and construction. Each assessment has a category for ecology, which notes any measures that have been introduced to protect and enhance the environment; any ecologically valuable opportunities and features; and the steps that have been made towards mitigating against any unavoidable effects.

Before these credits can be awarded, a Suitably Qualified Ecologist (SQE) must carry out a site survey and complete a report.

The process of calculating a site’s ecological value can be highly complex, so it’s essential to seek the advice of a BREEAM or CEEQUAL trained ecologist, such as the experts at Engain. To help to maximise the number of credits a development can achieve, our specialists can provide an ecological evaluation and share their expertise on several areas including native planting, costs, timescales and management protocols.

In developments within towns or cities, it may be harder to envisage where ecological credits can be achieved; however, we can offer tips on creative measures such as subterranean habitats, green roofs and living walls – all of which can have a positive impact on your score and help you achieve your desired accreditation.

To arrange a chat with one of our trained ecologists about your site and your BREEAM, HMQ or CEEQUAL assessment, please call 01225 459564 or email

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To discuss your project requirements, please contact our experienced team