Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Low-carbon renewable building

Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering in collaboration with BRE Group

Pete Walker and colleague with straw bale building material


More than 25 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to the construction and operation of domestic housing. As a result, the Government has introduced a Code for Sustainable Homes, which requires all new homes to be built to the highest energy-saving rating by 2016.

The KTA with the University of Bath has been fundamental to BRE gaining a foothold in the South West, through delivering credible, useful and practical research results to mainstream industry.

— Nick Tune, Director,
BRE Wales & South West

Dramatic reductions in building-related energy consumption will be met, in part, by incorporating low-carbon building materials and enhancing insulation. The UK construction industry tends to be risk averse and is slow to adopt low-carbon materials and methods, both traditional and innovative, and the challenge is to overcome this.


Researchers from the University of Bath along with colleagues at BRE Wales and South West responded to the challenge by surveying a wide range of construction industry participants - designers and architects, surveyors, building contractors, students, policy makers and end users - in order to understand their concerns regarding low-carbon building materials.

The project team used the results of the survey to run training events and to produce documents which provided state-of-the-art information and advice on energy-saving materials and methods to the sector.




Benefits and outcomes

The activities undertaken through this project have raised awareness of the potential use of renewable materials across the construction industry, and especially in the South West. Over 120 survey responses were received and analysed, resulting in greater awareness of the barriers to wider adoption of renewable materials. Over 400 construction industry professionals were met through seven engagement events, and freely available, peer reviewed BRE Information Papers and case studies on low-carbon construction were made available.

The project has helped the BRE South West office establish its presence, and it is now beginning to consult on regional low-carbon building projects including the St Austell EcoTown.