Research to tackle built environment resilience

THE largest UK charity dedicated specifically to built environment research, the BRE Trust, has announced a major three year funding programme to improve the resilience of buildings and infrastructure to the growing threats of flooding, wind damage and overheating associated with climate change.

In January 2014 parts of the UK experienced rainfall of three times the historic average.  An estimated 7,000 properties were flooded and 750,000 homes were left without power. This added to growing evidence that the early impacts of climate change will be the more frequent occurrence of damaging weather events, ranging from storms and flooding to heatwaves and droughts.


“Last year’s devastating floods and storms revealed our vulnerability to extreme weather and were indicative of wider resilience problems,” says Guy Hammersley, BRE Group Board Director, Research & Innovation. “Our built environment is struggling to cope with a rapidly changing world, and there is an urgent need to strengthen its resistance to short-term shocks and long-term change – and to improve its ability to quickly recover from crises.”

To this end the BRE Trust, is funding a Resilient Built Environment themed research programme, with a focus on climate resilience. Earlier research and consultations have highlighted three major climatic impacts with associated gaps in existing knowledge – flooding, wind and overheating – which are the priority areas for this programme.

The research will be closely aligned with the work of the BRE Centre for Resilience, created in 2014 to address adverse weather effects, as well as social, security and disaster issues. The BRE University Centres of Excellence are an integral part of the Centre and will also be fully integrated into the programme.

The programme will be begin in April 2015 with five initial projects on:

Flood resilient homes – repair standards.  A project to develop appropriate standards for flood resilient repairs, and technical guidance to help contractors deliver cost-effective measures.

Wind loading on buildings.  More that 90% of building wind damage occurs at wind speeds below the basic design wind pressure – this project will address this serious performance gap.

Tackling overheating in urban dwellings. This project will provide vital guidance and information based on hard scientific data, including a detailed review of the potential risk of flats to overheat.

Resilience to natural disasters.  Builds on the successful BRE Trust and IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) funded work to develop the QSAND Tool for post disaster reconstruction/redevelopment projects.

Community resilience. This will be a precursor to a wider project which is in preparation to develop a tool for assessing and managing resilience at a community level.