International diversification delivers strong outturn for the BRE Group

BRE Trust* Chair James Wates attributed the BRE Group’s strong financial performance in 2016-17 to international diversification at the 21st Trust AGM today. He also highlighted the critical importance of BRE in maintaining its independence, which has been so valued by Government, property owners and occupants in the aftermath of the Grenfell tower fire.

In his address to trustees and BRE colleagues, Wates announced revenues of £46.7m delivering a net profit of £1.95m (which was gift aided to the BRE trust to support research and education for the public good) and an improvement in cash balances by £2.8m to £3.5m. He said ‘Overseas income has risen to 40% of the total. We have bases in the USA, China, India, the Middle East and Brazil, as well as BREEAM partnerships in Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, and more recent projects in Chile, Argentina and South Africa.’

Further 2016-17 highlights cited by the Chair include:

  • A research programme worth more than £25m which made a vital contribution to developing the skills and wider knowledge economy that underpins the construction industry’s success
  • The merging of Constructing Excellence with BRE – bringing clients, contractors, consultants and suppliers together to drive change through collaborative working
  • New Innovation Park projects like the Dementia Refurbishment Demonstration Building in Scotland showcasing design and technology strategies to help people age well at home.
  • The launch of the Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard helping organisations demonstrate continuous improvement in labour sourcing, and human rights due diligence
  • The opening of new offices in Shenzhen, China and San Francisco, USA
  • The completion of the Trust’s two-year research programme on Resilience in the Built Environment covering flooding, overheating, wind loading, post-disaster recovery, resilience in Brazil, and energy security
  • The construction of a flood resilient prototype home on the BRE Innovation Park showing how practical measures can prevent flood water entering a property and disperse water quickly if it does get in
  • The BRE Women’s Network BE Inspired event, which brought together successful women from across the industry to tell their stories and inspire others
  • The launch of the BRE Academy’s online service – BRE.ac – which in its first 14 months was accessed in 167 countries.
  • £3m programme of improvements to BRE’s facilities and infrastructure including a new pre-school nursery, office refurbishments and new environmental test chambers and acoustic testing facilities

Speaking about BRE’s recent testing activities on behalf of government following the Grenfell tower fire, Wates highlighted the importance of BRE’s continued independence. ‘The government was able to turn to us in a moment of crisis, assured that it would receive impartial, independent testing services and expertise. The BRE Group owes that independence, to a very large degree, to the BRE Trust, which took ownership of the Group in 1997 – 20 years ago supporting the BRE Group, its University Partners and the wider built environment by commissioning research to extend knowledge and skills.’

Focusing on the Trust’s achievements over the past 20 years Wates said ‘We have funded more than £20m of research, published over 300 new or updated titles and supported more than 300 post-graduate students. Research findings have been disseminated in over 3,000 peer-reviewed papers, conference proceedings and books, and more than 2,000 students have graduated from BSc and MSc courses supported by us. We have also supported BRE’s long-standing schools programme which more than 500 schools and almost 17,000 pupils have benefitted from free-of-charge.’

The Chair concluded by saying that ‘While celebrating our achievements, we remain focused on the challenges of the future, such as population growth, climate change and resource depletion. To meet these we must continually respond to the changes that are going on around us, which include advances in digital technology and rapid international development.’

NOTES TO EDITOR

*BRE Trust

The BRE Trust is the UK’s largest charity dedicated to advancing knowledge on the built environment. Ownership of BRE was transferred to the Trust following Government privatisation of the building science organisation in 1997. The profits made by the BRE Group of companies are used by the Trust to fund built environment research and education that benefits society.