Low-carbon construction materials and systems can now be tested in realistic open-air conditions at a new test facility called The Hive at the University of Bath.
Based at the university’s Building Research Park, Swindon, research will analyse the environmental impact of construction materials in the future – including their energy efficiency, flood resilience, structural capability and internal air quality.
The Hive has eight individual cells constructed to be insulated from each other, each with a single face left exposed to the external environment. The faces are used to install walls made from a range of materials and construction systems. Performance of these walls is evaluated in real-life conditions to create a more accurate picture of environmental performance than the U-value assessments currently used in building regulations.
Bath University pro-vice-chancellor Jane Millar said: “The Hive is a pioneering site that will allow industry to develop future energy-efficient construction materials and systems faster, while strengthening the research capabilities of our BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials.”
Dr Mike Lawrence, director of the Building Research Park, said: “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.”