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What testing facilities does BRE have?

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Explore BRE’s world-leading testing hub for assessing building performance.

what testing facilities does bre have

BRE conducts specialist testing and investigations into the real-world performance of structures, systems, and products.

Our testing facilities are at the BRE Science Park near Watford, and consist of:

  • Structures laboratory

  • Wind tunnel

  • Environmental test chambers

  • Anechoic chamber

  • Burn hall

Structures laboratory

The structures laboratory is big enough to test a full-scale building. It can fit a four-storey structure inside and regularly takes loads from 1kN to 10,000kN in its testing machines and across its floor.

This unique, world-class facility can simulate everything from a flood to an earthquake and allows BRE to offer a wide range of tests, from model-scale to large-scale load tests on structural elements right through to complete systems.

BRE’s specialist teams also test steel, concrete and timber construction here, plus dynamic loading. The testing capability is complemented by our expertise in the analysis and design of structures using all materials.

Wind Tunnel

In the two atmospheric boundary layer wind tunnels, natural wind can be simulated for environments ranging from open countryside to city centres. BRE will make a model of your development and surrounding area, typically at a scale of 1:200 to 1:300 that tests and predicts:

  • Structural and cladding loads imposed on the building and its dynamic response to them

  • Pedestrian environment around the building

  • Optimal locations of ventilation inlets and exhausts

  • Dispersal and concentrations of pollutants expelled from the building.

Environmental Test Chambers

A wide range of indoor climate and equipment testing can be carried out in BRE’s environmental test chambers, which range in volume from 1m3 to 250m3.  Along with the ability to commission bespoke mock-up facilities, by using these testing chambers BRE is able to provide its customers with independent efficacy and safety testing of a large range of equipment and systems, including air purifiers and cleaners, air scrubbing and filtration systems, air fresheners, air quality monitors and active biophilic technologies.

BRE also has accredited HVAC laboratory facilities for standard performance tests and specialist proof of concept or R&D testing of ventilation, heating and cooling products. In addition, sound power emission of mechanical ventilation units and heat pumps can be measured by the BRE Acoustics team."

BRE also has accredited HVAC laboratory facilities for standard performance tests and specialist proof of concept or R&D testing of ventilation, heating and cooling products. BRE's Acoustic team can also measure the sound power emission of mechanical ventilation units and heat pumps.

Anechoic Chamber

BRE’s anechoic chamber can be used to measure the sound output from fire, smoke and CO alarms. It may also be used for measuring the sound power of small, domestic appliances (typically up to 1m3) and loudspeaker directivity.

The chamber benefits from integrated uni-stru supports, permanent turntable support and wide access doors. Read more about BRE’s testing and certification work.

Burn Hall

Built in 1995, BRE’s burn hall is one of the largest facilities in Europe dedicated to researching, testing and assessing fire performance and fire suppression. It provides the evidence needed to solve fire problems in buildings, infrastructure, industry, energy and transport. Automotive, defence, rail and marine sectors also make use of findings from the burn hall in their engineering design.

From sprinkler systems and small enclosure suppression to full scale fire reconstructions, modelling, demonstrations and research, BRE is the only truly independent UK fire laboratory providing robust, independent and authoritative support to the UK construction and transport industries.

The burn hall’s features include:

  • Smoke management used for determining heat release rates for input to fire safety engineering (FSE) design

  • Fire-resistant furnace hall with smoke management

  • 10 MW (9mx9m hood) calorimeter with optional sprinkler protection

  • 2MW (3mx3m hood) calorimeter with option of ISO 9705 room corner test (reference test for the Euroclasses)

  • Sprinkler performance and distribution test facility

  • LPS 1230 Fire suppression (halon replacement evaluation) performance facility

  • BS 8414 external cladding test facility

  • LPS 1181 sandwich panel performance test facility

  • BS 476 all parts relevant to the Building Regulations (reaction to fire and fire resistance)

  • All European fire tests relevant to the building regulations (reaction to fire and fire resistance)

  • CEN/TS 1187 Test 4, constituent of EN 13501-5 for external fire performance of roofs

  • Space for fire recreations and ad hoc experiments

  • Analytical chemistry facilities

  • Large-scale and intermediate-scale experimental rigs for studying linings, cable, other linear products

  • Fire detection and fire suppression testing to European and International standards

  • CFD and risk-based computational fire modelling suite.

BRE’s expertise is recognised internationally and is at the cutting edge of understanding the behaviour and effects of fire.

Read more about BRE’s expertise in fire testing.