Building Research Establishment

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The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is a former UK government establishment (but now a private organisation) that carries out research, consultancy and testing for the construction and built environment sectors in the United Kingdom. The BRE has its headquarters in Watford with regional sites in Glasgow and Swansea.[1]

Among the BRE's areas of interest are participation in the preparation of national and international standards and building codes, including the UK building regulations. The organisation is now funded by income from its commercial programmes, the BRE bookshop,[2] contracted work, and by bidding for research funding from government and the industries it serves. It also has UKAS Accredited Testing Laboratories.


The BRE also owns and operates the BREEAM and EcoHomes environmental rating schemes, and promotes the German Passivhaus ultra-low energy building standard in the UK. It also runs a number of training courses.

BRE's sister company, BRE Global is an independent approvals body offering certification of fire, security and sustainability products and services.

The BRE International Sustainability Alliance (ISA) is a membership organisation that welcomes property owners, occupiers and investors who wish to come together to share best practice in the sustainable management of their property portfolios to improve financial performance.


The Building Research Establishment is owned by the BRE Trust, a charitable organization, which is the largest not for profit charity in the United Kingdom dedicated to research and education in the built environment.[3] Trustees are drawn from seven groups: built environment professionals, contractors, material and product suppliers, housing, university departments, building owners, building managers and building users.


BRE was founded in 1921 as the Building Research Board[4] at East Acton as part of the British Civil Service as an effort to improve the quality of housing in the United Kingdom.[5]

During the Second World War it was involved in the confidential research and development of the bouncing bomb for use against the Möhne Dam in the famous Dambusters Raid of 1943[6] The small scale model of the dam used for testing can still be found at the Centre in Garston, Watford, today.

BRE was a founding member in 1976 of BSRIA, the Building Services Research and Information Association.

Having subsumed a number of other government organisations over the years, including the former Fire Research Station and the Princes Risborough Laboratory, it was given executive agency status in 1990 before being privatised by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions on March 19, 1997.[7]

From 1 January 2013, BRE took over the management of the UK and Ireland chapter of BuildingSMART.[8]

See also[edit]


F.M. Lea (1971). Science and building: a history of the Building Research Station. HMSO. 

B.J. Rendle (1976). Fifty years of timber research : a short history of the Forest Products Research Laboratory, Princes Risborough. HMSO. ISBN 0-11-670546-9. 

R.E.H. Read (1994). A short history of the Fire Research Station, Borehamwood. BRE. 

G.S.T. Armer; P.S.J. Buller (1996). "Some highlights of 75 years' structural engineering research at BRE". Structural engineer 74 (11): 194–196. ISSN 1466-5123. 

R. Courtney (1997). "Building Research Establishment - past, present and future". Building research and information 25 (5): 285–291. ISSN 1466-4321. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°42′00″N 0°22′25″W / 51.7001°N 0.3737°W / 51.7001; -0.3737