Others are more cautious. "Europe thinks that LEED is an easy win, but it isn't if the paperwork and evidence is not in place," says Eszter Gulacsy. "There is a danger of complacency," she warns.
The argument for two schemes
So is the dynamic tension between two competing systems desirable? Clearly, a one-size-fits-all assessment scheme would be difficult to achieve on a global basis. For example, water efficiency is a major issue in Dubai and Australia, but not in Scotland and nor in Wales. So different issues need to be ranked differently to match regional environment and regulations.
While LEED is dominated by the American ASHRAE standards, BREEAM takes it cue from European and UK legislation. The regional versions of both schemes flow from those antecedents.
BREEAM Gulf has been adapted for the local market. Gone are the Good, Very Good, and Excellent ratings, and in comes star ratings. The weightings are changed so that water is the key issue, rather than energy as in the standard UK schemes. In addition to the CIBSE guidance being the measure for certain credits, ASHRAE and other standards are also now referenced in BREEAM Gulf.
BREEAM has long been able to adapt to local contexts. With BREEAM Bespoke, for example, the assessor can work with BRE to develop assessment criteria specially tailored to a building where it doesn't fit neatly into one of the existing schemes.
LEED, however, has not been created with this level of adaptability and it is not run that way. Instead it is fixed to the ASHRAE standards and the US way of thinking (for example, credits are awarded for having enough car parking spaces, rather than minimising them as in BREEAM).
There are also differences in the way LEED calculates credits. They are generally linked to the US Dollar (especially the energy credits), which means that if the exchange rate is unfavourable, then the building's rating could suffer.
A key change that may make LEED more exportable is the introduction of regional bonus credits. Six regional priority credits will be available based on what the US-GBC's regional councils and chapters deem important, environmentally, in that region.
A downside is that these credits are not available for non-US projects. However, there are national versions of LEED being developed by individual national green building councils. Canada was the first, followed by India. Countries such as Brazil and Italy are looking to have their own versions soon.
The Dutch Green Building Council has also adopted BREEAM as its favoured environmental assessment method.
There is a lot of hype about the battle between BREEAM and LEED in the UK, but this seems to be unfounded. Both seem happy to co-exist and each has their niche areas or countries. They are even borrowing each other's ideas as they grow.
BREEAM will probably always come out on top in the UK, simply because it is imbedded in the system. Government departments require BREEAM ratings of all their buildings; most local authorities require BREEAM as part of planning approval for developments over a certain size.
Once projects are underway that aim to be zero carbon, the likes of BREEAM or LEED may have developed to become the global default methods of assessment.
Now, who'd bet against that?