Building Research Establishment

Building Research Establishment

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is a former UK government establishment (but now a private organisation, funded by the building industry) that carries out research, consultancy and testing for the construction and built environment sectors in the United Kingdom. The BRE is headquartered in Watford with regional sites in Glasgow and Port Talbot.

Among the BRE's areas of interest are participation in the preparation of national and international standards and building codes, including the UK Building Regulations. The organisation is now funded by income from its commercial programmes, the BRE bookshop [] , contracted work, and by bidding for research funding from government and the industries it serves. It is also a UKAS Accredited Testing Laboratory.


The BRE also owns and operates the BREEAM and EcoHomes environmental rating schemes, and promotes the German "Passivhaus" ultra-low energy building standard in the UK. It also runs a number of training courses.

BRE's sister company, BRE Global is an independent approvals body offering certification of fire, security and sustainability products and services.


Since privatisation there have been claims that the Blue Sky research for which the BRE was well known has been compromised by commercial pressures [] .

In 2005 the Select Committee on Environmental Audit expressed their concern that there was a lack of significant funding for research and development of sustainable construction methods in the UK [] , with funding for the BRE having been 'drastically' cut in the previous 4 years. As a result, many of the sustainable building materials used in the UK are imported from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, countries which have taken the lead in research in this area.


The Building Research Establishment is owned by the BRE Trust, a Charitable organization, which claims to be the largest charity in the United Kingdom dedicated to research and education in the built environment [] . Trustees are drawn from seven groups: built environment professionals, contractors, material and product suppliers, housing, university departments, building owners, building managers and building users.


BRE was founded as part of the British Civil Service in 1926 as part of an effort to improve the quality of [] .

During the Second World War it was involved in the confidential research and development of the bouncing bomb for use against the Möhne Dam in the famous Dambusters Raid of 1943 [] (The small scale model of the dam used for testing can still be found at the Centre in Garston, Watford, today [] .

Having subsumed a number of other government organisations over the years, including the former Fire Research Station, it was given Executive Agency status in 1990 before being privatised by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions on March 19, 1997 [] .

Until 14 January 2008 BRE was the only organisation to provide assessment and training of Code for Sustainable Homes. Stroma Accrediation was awarded the right to provide these services due to BRE monopoly of the training market.


Science and building. A history of the Building Research Station. F.M. Lea. HMSO, 1971.
Fifty years of timber research : a short history of the Forest Products Research Laboratory, Princes Risborough. B.J. Rendle. HMSO, 1976.
A short history of the Fire Research Station, Borehamwood. R.E.H. Read. BRE, 1994. []
Some highlights of 75 years' structural engineering research at BRE. G S T Armer, P S J Buller. Structural Engineer, 1996, v.74 no.11, p.194-196 []
Building Research Establishment - past, present and future. R. Courtney Building Research and Information, 1997, vol.25 no.5, p.285-291. []

ee also

*Energy efficiency in British housing
*BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at The University of Edinburgh
*Construction Industry Council

External links

* [ BRE official site]
*UK charity|1092193|BRE Trust
* [ BRE Global official site]
* [ The role of the centre for construction innovation]
* [ BRE evidence to the Select Committee on Environmental Audit]
* [ PassivHausUK, operated by the BRE]
* [ Stroma official site]

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