Bath builds a greener future

A new research centre based at the University of Bath is developing novel innovative materials and products to improve the sustainability of the UK building industry. The BRE Centre in Innovative Construction Materials is a research and development partnership comprising the University’s Faculty of Engineering & Design and BRE.

The Centre will promote research into new construction materials and explore innovative ways of using existing and traditional materials, such as timber and masonry, in modern sustainable building.

“The environmental impact of the construction industry is huge,” said Professor Peter Walker, Director of the new Centre. “For example, cement is essential to the industry but its manufacture is recognised as contributing up to 10% of all industrial CO2 emissions. The Centre will look at the development of low-carbon cements and the use of replacement and recycled materials to minimise the environmental impact of the construction industry.

“Although timber is a traditional material in many parts of the world and can provide a sustainable resource for building, historically it is under-used in the UK compared with other countries,” he added. “Developing novel and value-added ways of using UK-grown timber and increasing its use in general could make a significant contribution to tackling climate change.”

Other technologies the Centre will consider include crop-based and natural fibre composite materials, such as hemp, advanced fibre composites, the use of steel and the use of waste and recycled materials.

BRE has an international reputation for excellence in all aspects of construction. It will work in partnership on all the research carried out by the Centre, and there will be an exchange of staff and facilities between BRE and the University.

“The faculty has had close links with BRE for many years and the creation of the Centre is an important recognition of the existing national and international leadership of Bath in a variety of construction and structural materials,” said Professor Walker. “While there are other specialist research centres working in this field, this Centre will have a broader research remit.”

Dr Peter Bonfield, Managing Director of the Construction Division at BRE said: “The partnership will look not only to achieve academic excellence but to deliver practical and commercially viable solutions to the construction industry.”

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