New projects to research green building solutions

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials

Two major new projects to further the development of sustainable building solutions have been launched. The BRE (Building Research Establishment) National Solar Centre, aimed at providing a research based, independent platform in the use of solar energy in the UK was officially opened in Cornwall today, and a £1m ground-breaking building called the HIVE funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and led by Dr Mike Lawrence from the University of Bath’s BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, is to be built at a dedicated research park in Swindon.

The park has been developed by Bath University’s Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering as a unique research project that will allow researchers and construction companies from across the country to develop and to explore innovative building materials.

Dr Mike Lawrence explained the concept: “Laboratory research has identified the potential to use renewable natural materials in construction. Experimentation and study using HIVE is an essential stage in understanding just how these materials will perform in the real world, and how best to use them in novel low impact construction technologies.”

He added: “The HIVE will provide space for this fundamental research to be carried out. Bath researchers will use the facility for their work in this and other areas of innovative construction technology. In addition, it will be available to researchers around the country and overseas to follow their own lines of enquiry, making the HIVE a global centre for research into low impact construction.

“An added feature of the HIVE is that it will allow the materials and systems developed by researchers to be prototyped and tested in the field by the construction industry, making it a facility which can take blue skies thinking all the way through to mainstream construction in the shortest possible time.”

The BRE National Solar Centre based at St Austell in Cornwall was opened today by Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, to support the UK solar industry to become a significant contributor in the energy marketplace.

Working with local partners, including the Eden Project, Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust, Plymouth University, and Exeter University’s Tremough campus, the Centre will provide a research based, independent platform where stakeholders can share experience, data and developments for the benefit of the whole UK solar sector. Outputs will focus on performance, quality, innovation and standards.

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials (BRE CICM) conducts leading research, development and consultancy in the field of innovative and sustainable construction materials and technologies. For more information visit:

By Sara Bean