Responsive mode research programme

Each year BRE Trust calls for proposals from groups or individuals to be submitted for inclusion in its responsive mode research programme. The BRE Trust Research Committee, chaired by Dr Liz Goodwin OBE, judges proposals based on their merit, their potential impact on improving the built environment and their outcomes in terms of public benefit.

Recent projects include:

  • The real cost of poor housing

The relationship between poor housing and poor health is much discussed, but until recently it has not been possible to estimate exactly how much it is costing society. The BRE Trust commissioned a research project to find out and discovered that England's poorest quality housing stock could be costing the NHS £600 million each year to treat the health problems of home occupants.

The project also found that 4.8 million homes have category 1 hazards, such as excess cold and lead piping, and estimated the cost of remedying these hazards at only £4,000 per home. This information demonstrated to the NHS the savings that could be made by investing in better and safer housing. A number of regions and local authorities are now responding to the project report and implementing its findings.

  • Identifying opportunities for low carbon district heating

In the UK, district heating systems are often overlooked due to the high capital cost and lack of necessary technical and organisational skills to implement them. However, obligations to integrate renewable energy technologies are increasingly being recognised by developers addressing the Code for Sustainable Homes as part of the planning process.

This BRE Trust-funded research project explored techniques being used in international low carbon district heating schemes. It produced a BRE Information Paper focusing on new-build developments, concluding that to be successful, sites must be of high density and be open to implementing emerging new techniques such as twin-pipe systems. The project also informed the production of a roadmap report for the European Commission which sets out milestones regarding the development of district heating systems in most major cities by 2050.

Current research projects being funded by the BRE Trust include:

  • BIM (Building information modelling)-based BREEAM
  • Building for an ageing population
  • Cornwall test case for Green Deal assessment methodology
  • Fires in combustible cavities
  • Fourth-generation district heating schemes
  • Mapping the sustainability impacts in fit-out and interiors for retail and commercial properties.