BRE Trust survey reveals industry research wish list
More innovation required in MMC and renewables say construction professionals
Improved insulation products, renewable energy storage solutions and modern methods of construction (MMC) for low volume building projects are among the areas requiring targeted research and innovation according to a recent industry survey.
A study commissioned by the BRE Trust identified a revealing wish list from construction industry professionals looking to address key knowledge gaps in the market. Now in its tenth year, the Trust undertook the consultation exercise to find out where it should be investing funds in order to drive positive change across the built environment.
MMC emerged as a significant area requiring more forward thinking around off-site fabrication of factory built, machine assembled buildings as well as their potential fire risk. Reducing the requirement for site assembly and finishing was paramount for a number of survey respondents who emphasised the importance of finding cost effective solutions for low volume builds.
The life expectancy of renewable technologies was another area of concern, with respondents requiring more information on the effects of environmental pollution on solar PV systems. Finding effective ways of using photovoltaics in smaller households and storing collected solar energy were some of the practical issues marked out for further investigation, with a proven method of harnessing kinetic energy generated from footfall noted as an aspirational goal.
Trialling new, innovative methods of upgrading existing buildings whilst in occupation was a general request from most respondents who suggested that further research should be channelled into developing improved insulation solutions. Finding alternative options for solid wall insulation including small, rubble filled cavities was listed as a prerequisite to optimising the airtightness of retrofit projects, with a preference for using natural materials to minimise the carbon footprint.
The BRE Trust is the largest UK charity dedicated specifically to research and education in the built environment. Its aim is to ensure industry has access to peer-reviewed, evidence-based knowledge and tools that it needs to drive healthy, safe and sustainable development.
“In 2011/12, BRE Trust expenditure on research was £3.17 million,” explains Deborah Pullen, BRE's director of knowledge exploitation and scheme leader on the BRE Trust’s Future Cities thematic research programme. “This industry consultation exercise will inform our future planning, enabling the Trust to focus investment on areas where the industry specifically needs it.”
For more information on the BRE Trust, visit www.bre.co.uk/bretrust