Bath opens UK's only test rig for low carbon materials

A new facility, named HIVE, launched by BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials will 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.

The building has eight individual cells designed to be completely insulated from each other and each with a single face left exposed to the external environment. The faces are used to install walls made from a wide range of materials and construction systems, and the performance of these walls is evaluated in real life conditions. The aim is to create a more accurate picture of environmental performance than the u-value assessments currently used in building regulations.

“Finding new, sustainable methods of construction – properly tested in a real building such as the HIVE – is essential if the UK is to lead the way in low carbon homes and meet challenging emissions targets,” said Dr Mike Lawrence, Director of the Building Research Park.

The £1m HIVE is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which supports the construction sector with nearly £197m in research funding and Lesley Thompson, EPSRC’s Director of Science and Engineering believes the HIVE will “make a real difference make a real difference to the future of construction both in the UK and worldwide”.

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This article, including the image, has been adapted from an article published in Building4Change.