Building Research Establishment
Formation1921; 103 years ago (1921)
  • Garston, Hertfordshire, England

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is a centre of building science in the United Kingdom, owned by charitable organisation the BRE Trust. It is a former UK government national laboratory that was privatised in 1997. BRE provides research, advice, training, testing, certification and standards for both public and private sector organisations in the UK and abroad. It has its headquarters in Garston, Hertfordshire, England, with regional sites in Glasgow, Swansea, the US, India, the Middle East and China.[1]

BRE is funded with income from commissioned research, commercial programmes and by a number of digital tools for use in the construction sector.



The Building Research Establishment is owned by the BRE Trust, a registered charity that works to support research and education in the built environment. All of the profits accrued by BRE are passed to the Trust and are used to fund new research and education programmes designed to meet the Trust's goal of promoting safety and sustainability.

Over the last 20 years[when?] the BRE Trust has funded 117 PhDs on a total research programme of £15m, with other funding levered into the sector as a whole from research councils and European Union research sources.

The BRE Trust also financially supports five university Centres of Excellence. One of the first Centres established was at the University of Edinburgh in 2004, a research and education programme on fire safety engineering. The other centres are in Strathclyde (energy utilisation), Bath (construction materials), Cardiff (sustainable engineering), and Brasilia (integrated and sustainable communities).


1943 image of 1:50 Scale model of the Möhne Dam built for Operation Chastise (the Dambusters' Raid), Building Research Establishment

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 Dambusters Raid of 1943[6] A 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 and the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) in 2007.

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 19 March 1997.[7]

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

In August 2016, Constructing Excellence merged with BRE, with BRE undertaking to maintain the CE's brands and functions.[9]

Since the Grenfell Tower fire(2017), BRE has been criticised for holding poor fire safety standards, all the while via reviewing cases like that of Grenfell.[10][11][12]

See also


  1. ^ "Contact us". 30 January 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  2. ^ "Responsible Sourcing of Construction Projects". Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  3. ^ "Ethical Labour Sourcing Standards (ELS)". Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  4. ^ "Our history". 16 September 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  5. ^ Boden, Rebecca; Gummett, Philip; Cox, Deborah; Barker, Kate (1998). "Men in White Coats....Men in Grey Suits: new public management and the funding of scientific research in the UK". Accounting, Auditing & Accountability. 11, 3. University of Manchester: 267–291. ISSN 1368-0668. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  6. ^ "Chocks Away: The Story of Local Aviation". St Albans Museums. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Effects of changes in departmental responsibilities on departmental staff numbers - 1985 to October 2003". Archived from the original on 3 February 2007.
  8. ^ "BuildingSMART deal will hasten BIM adoption". Construction Manager. 20 December 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  9. ^ Walker, Andy (16 August 2016). "Constructing Excellence to merge with BRE". Infrastructure Intelligence. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  10. ^ "FBU calls for Grenfell building safety body to be nationalised". Fire Brigades Union (Press release). 13 May 2022. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  11. ^ O'Brien, Michael; Baker, Cameron (20 July 2022). "Fire Safety: First Substantive Post-Grenfell Judgment". Beale & Co. Lexology. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  12. ^ Watterson, Andrew; Beck, Matthias (21 November 2022). "The UK's privatisation drive cost lives, research suggests". The Conversation. Retrieved 23 November 2022.


51°42′00″N 0°22′25″W / 51.7001°N 0.3737°W / 51.7001; -0.3737 (BRE)