Watford, England

Launched in 2005, the Park at BRE’s headquarters in Garston, Watford, continues to set the standard for BRE’s Innovation Parks across the world.  The Park started life as a small-scale demonstration of modern-methods-of-construction (MMC) and quickly developed in a facility rich in innovation.

The Watford Park attracts around 20,000 visitors per year, from within the UK and overseas, and has 12 full-scale demonstration buildings.

What we do

  • Demonstrate low to zero carbon buildings
  • Showcase innovative construction and technologies
  • Look at sustainable buildings and communities of the future
  • Support the delivery of the National Curriculum for local schools
  • Host events and away days
  • Act as a networking and knowledge exchange hub
  • Provide a test-bed for innovative ideas and products
  • Act as a gateway to BRE’s world-leading expert advice, testing and certification

Buildings

The houses feature a number of building types over the year demonstrating Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), showcasing off-site construction from elements through to whole buildings, as well as demonstrating  all the different types of build, from timber frame, to cross laminate timber, concrete, clay block, SIPS and light gauge steel. The buildings have a finite life, and once all the research potential has been exhausted the buildings are deconstructed under the BRE Smart Waste tool, or repurposed. A good example of the latter is the Willmott Dixon building, which started life as a demonstrator  for the Building Schools for the future programme, was then converted into  a healthcare demonstrator, and will now become a training facility linked to the BRE Academy and the BRE Trust funded schools programme.

The buildings have been constructed to meet the challenges of achieving rising standards, from the 2005 £60k house challenge, to the  Code for Sustainable Homes, and now the Home Quality Mark  and 2016 Building Regulations. BRE has worked with the industry to help the supply chain raise awareness of how to meet each new standard.

A test-bed for innovative ideas and products

As well as the construction method of the houses themselves there are a number of products  on each of the buildings and around the Park that contribute to the holistic approach to sustainable homes and communities. While BRE always promotes a “Fabric First” approach to construction, choosing the best materials for the construction, it is then necessary to select the optimal system for heating and hot water, and then choose what renewables can complement the building to achieve low to zero carbon emissions. In addition, ventilation, lighting, daylighting and appliance use can all impact on the performance of the building, and the embodied energy of potable water should not be underestimated.

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