Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre secures BREEAM excellence rating

The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre has picked up its first award, and it is not even open yet. The building, currently mid construction, has been awarded 74.37% by BREEAM, the world’s leading design and assessment method for sustainable buildings. This places the building in the ‘Excellent’ category.

BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 200,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million registered for assessment since it was first launched in 1990. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has become one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance. 

Commenting on the award, Graham Thompson, Project Director for the Giant’s Causeway Project, National Trust, said;

“We are thrilled to have received our first award for the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre. For this concrete building in a sensitive rural location with all the limitations regarding space to secure an excellent rating from BREEAM is simply brilliant news. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and securing this rating is such a feather in the projects cap. In a sense what we are trying to achieve is a building which the National Trust and indeed the local community can be proud of for many years to come. To achieve an excellent rating is such a boost to all involved in this project.”

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

A Certificated BREEAM assessment is delivered by a licensed organisation, using assessors trained under a UKAS accredited competent person scheme, at various stages in a buildings life cycle. This provides clients, developers, designers and others with:

market recognition for low environmental impact buildings,

confidence that tried and tested environmental practice is incorporated in the building,

inspiration to find innovative solutions that minimise the environmental impact,

a benchmark that is higher than regulation,

a system to help reduce running costs, improve working and living environments,

a standard that demonstrates progress towards corporate and organisational environmental objectives.

The £18.5million Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre was designed by award winning architects Heneghan.peng. Complicit in the design is an insistence that the contractor, Gilbert Ash, complies with the most sustainable ways of working. The project has secured funding from Northern Ireland Tourist Board through DETI, HLF and the national Trust. A fundraising campaign to raise £2.25m has so far raised over £800k.