GW4 Centre of Excellence in the Built Environment

Initiator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath:
Dr Mike Lawrence, Professor Pete Walker
University of Bristol: Dr Wendel Sebastian
Cardiff University: Professor Chris Tweed, Professor Yacine Rezgui
University of Exeter:
Dr Matthew Eames

Project overview

The overarching need to reduce global carbon emissions was recognised by the Kyoto Protocol. This is an EU-Wide priority as expressed in its action on climate targets for 2030 (40% reduction in emissions) and 2050 (80-95% reduction in emissions). Construction is responsible for nearly 50% of UK Carbon emissions (BIS 2010) and research in this area therefore has the potential to make significant contribution to these targets.

We will focus on embodied carbon, predicted to account for more than 95% of total construction related emissions by the 2020s. CO2 emissions are generated at all stages of a building’s life cycle. The materials and energy involved in the construction of a building is embodied in it for the duration of its life. Energy is consumed in using the building, and more energy and materials are expended in refurbishment or demolition. Much research has concentrated on reducing in use emissions but less work has been done on embodied carbon.

The University of Bath’s Building Research Park (BRP) and the EPSRC-funded HIVE have been conceived as the host and platform for world leading research into low carbon construction materials and systems at full scale. The facilities on offer include:

  • 16 experimental buildings at the BRP.
  • Up to 8 single storey and 4 double storey building envelope panels.
  • Infrastructure to research the impact of flood and wind on building envelopes.
  • Remote access to data.
  • Full technical and administrative support to allow ‘plug and play’ research programmes to take place.

We aim to establish a GW4 Centre of Excellence in the Built Environment at the HIVE which will act as an incubator for research innovation projects drawing in both academics and industrialists.

Through the series of proposed activities, we aim to address this grand challenge in a holistic manner. We will bring together expertise in novel materials, digital technology, thermal modelling, composite structural performance and retrofit. This will create the potential for building envelopes and retrofit solutions that can make dramatic changes to the embodied carbon of both existing and new build. The synergy of the expertise will be realised in products which will be field tested at full scale at the Building Research Park – dramatically reducing the time taken to bring them to market.