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A new facility, aimed to foster building innovative solutions for the benefit of the UK and other countries around the world, was launched by the BRE Trust at the University of Bath in late 2014.

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, called HIVE, allows construction companies and academics can now test low carbon construction materials and systems in realistic open-air conditions. The HIVE, based at the University of Bath’s Building Research Park, Swindon, is the first facility of its kind in the UK and will be used to analyse the environmental impact of construction materials in the future – including their energy efficiency, flood resilience, structural capability and internal air quality.
Before being incorporated into real buildings, new building materials and systems are developed in the laboratory and must be evaluated at full scale. The HIVE offers a ‘plug and play’ facility and expertise to test and evaluate materials and systems in a ready-built open air environment, speeding time to market for innovative materials.

There are several large scale European funded research projects with industry which are located at the £1 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded HIVE.
A €2 million European Commission Eco-Innovation funded project entitled HEMPSEC, is aimed at expanding the market for a pre-fabricated, pre-dried, panelised system of hemp-lime construction
The research consortium brings together a multidisciplinary team of world-class researchers, large enterprises, innovative SMEs and a reputed research and testing organisation.
The 36 month-long work programme will construct, instrument, monitor and analyse the environmental performance of a number of small experimental buildings located at the Building Research Park.

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials at the University of Bath is one of five University centres of excellence in the UK supported by the BRE Trust, the research and education charity that owns the BRE Group. A sixth Centre of Excellence recently opened at the University of Brasilia in Brazil.

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