Should your BREEAM Assessment include a Security Needs Assessment?

Introduction

My last blog post (http://toren.co.uk/shoul48c3) introduced a series of posts discussing the various security assessment and certification schemes available for buildings in the UK and gave some pointers on Secured By Design. Part of that article described SBD as a prescriptive standard, as compared to risk-based schemes like BREEAM Security Needs Assessments. So this week, I'm going to take a look at the BREEAM Hea 06 SNA and consider its pros and cons.
What is a BREEAM Hea 06 Security Needs Assessment?

BREEAM

BREEAM is “the world's leading sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure and buildings” according to its authors BRE. The BREEAM schemes assess the design, procurement, construction and operation of a development against targets, and rate them as Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
The BREEAM standards are available from BRE at http://toren.co.uk/breea3284. Note that this article refers to the UK versions of the standards, rather than the International versions. The full wording of BREEAM Hea 06 in the current (2014) UK new construction scheme can be found at http://toren.co.uk/hea06fa48.

BREEAM Hea 06 Security Needs Assessment

BREEAM grants a point towards a development’s rating if a Security Needs Assessment is completed and the recommendations from that report are implemented.
Specific criteria apply to both the Security Needs Assessment report and the ‘Suitably Qualified Security Specialist’ who can be employed to complete it.

Security Needs Assessment Criteria

Hea 06 defines a Security Needs Assessment as “the project and site specific assessment of security needs”, and requires:

  • A visual audit of the site and surroundings
  • Formal consultation with relevant stakeholders
  • Identification of risks specific to the use and user groups of the building
  • Identification of any detrimental effects the development may have on the existing community

These requirements reflect some of the elements of a typical security consultant’s report for a property. As late involvement in projects is a constant lament of security consultants and other specialists, the requirement of Hea 06 that this assessment is undertaken during RIBA Stage 2 is welcome. Note that there is a clarification that the points can be achieved later if the SQSS confirms that the implementation of security measures has not been ‘restricted, impaired or are not possible as a result of their later involvement’.

The requirement to consult with stakeholders such as the police Designing Out Crime Officer (DOCO) or Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA) ensures that up to date information on specific local and emerging crime types and criminal methods can be included. As the DOCO is a planning consultee, early engagement with them via a security consultant is normally recommended anyway.

Who can help?

BREEAM allows three routes to be considered suitably qualified for the purposes of Hea 06:

  • Crime Prevention Design Advisors (CPDA) or Architectural Liaison Officers (ALO), Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA); or
  • A specialist registered with a BREEAM-recognised third party accreditation scheme for security specialists.
  • A practising security consultant that meets the following requirements:
    • Minimum of three years relevant experience within the last five years. This experience must clearly demonstrate a practical understanding of factors affecting security in relation to construction and the built environment, relevant to the type and scale of the project being undertaken.
    • Hold a suitable qualification relevant to security.
    • Maintains (full) membership to a relevant professional body or accreditation scheme that meets the following:
      • Has a professional code of conduct, to which members must adhere; and
      • Ongoing membership is subject to peer review.

Increasingly, police DOCOs (replacing the outdated terms referenced in Hea 06) are found to be too stretched to act as SQSS and produce a Security Needs Assessment. While I am unable to point to published policy, this has been a trend that has been confirmed by DOCOs and by developers, architects and BREEAM Assessors when seeking Hea 06 points. The DOCO will usually still meet the design team to advise on crime patterns etc but, probably fairly, will often not produce a fully compliant Security Needs Assessment.

There are not currently any BREEAM-recognised accreditation schemes, meaning that the most likely route to achieving a compliant SNA is to appoint a consultant meeting the experience, qualification and membership criteria.

Should you go for a Security Needs Assessment?

To be absolutely clear, there isn’t a separate badge for completing a BREEAM Security Needs Assessment like there is with SBD; there are only points towards your BREEAM rating. So the short answer is that if you need a BREEAM point, then you should consider a Security Needs Assessment.

The benefits of the approach taken by BREEAM to Security Needs Assessments are largely the flexibility that it allows. You can try to use the police DOCO as SQSS, or engage a professional security consultant. You can follow Secured By Design (as described in a clarification in Hea 06), or you can take a more bespoke approach. You can produce the Security Needs Assessment report in whatever format is best for the project and for the BREEAM Assessor’s later ease in verifying that measures have been included.

The ease with which a Security Needs Assessment actually contributes BREEAM points though ultimately depends upon the alignment of the SQSS’s recommendations with the project’s architecture and budget. Anecdotal evidence and a recent small survey by Toren Consulting indicate that incompatibility of the security recommendations with a project’s design and cost plan are the main reasons that assumed Hea 06 points in a BREEAM Assessment are ultimately not achieved.
(If you’d like to contribute to the survey, it remains open at http://toren.co.uk/breea29a8)

Summary

I believe that it is encouraging to see security represented in sustainability standards. The relationship between the two is something that I will explore in future posts.

Simplistically, engaging an SQSS to complete an SNA could be seen as an easy and affordable way to achieve a BREEAM point, but it should be remembered that to actually get the points the recommendations have to be implemented. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be achievable, but the architect and QS should ensure that the SQSS gives them a clear understanding of the implications of the SNA.