Western Counties Region Summer visit to The Building Research Establishment

Published: 13/03/2017

Innovation Park Watford - a day of Inspiration and CPD .

On 1 July 2016 a group of 12 local branch members made a very worthwhile day trip to the Building Research Establishment Innovation Park near Watford. The aim was to understand how sustainable building techniques will be incorporated into our everyday designs.

The Innovation Park is a world leader in promoting sustainable building techniques for future construction, particularly for domestic housing. Its outward-looking proselytizing of low-energy techniques has directly led to the setting up of a similar branch in China, arguably the world’s greatest growth market, whose resource consumption will soon dwarf all others. Even minor changes in China’s energy use will help mitigate the coming climate change issues.

On arrival we had a highly informative talk by their Technical Director, John O’Brien, who set out their aims and achievements. We then spent time touring the display buildings to see the range of ideas made into reality. Whilst visiting these houses we had to use our structural X-ray vision to understand the construction materials & techniques and see how they integrated with finished product.

The main purpose of the park is effectively to showcase the design ethos and practicality of sustainable operation of the houses with natural light, passive ventilation, airtightness and particularly energy consumption technology innovations. These exemplar buildings in the Park are displays of the final product which hopefully will soon populate the estates of our much needed housing expansion.

To quote one of our group, “The trip as a whole gave me great insight into the wide selection of methods, materials and techniques that are available to cut electricity consumption and reduce carbon footprint. I wasn’t aware of the variety before visiting the BRE.”

It is essential that all construction students should be taught in greater depth and breadth about resource consumption and how they may contribute to less resource demanding ways of buildinmg. This is essential for the future and perhaps our greatest challenge as engineers.

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