The Belgian Building Research Institute is a private research institute founded in 1960 under impulse of the National Federation of Belgian Building Contractors in application of the so-called “De Groote” decree-law of 1947.
This decree-law named after the former Minister of Economic Affairs was specifically aimed at the promotion of applied research in the construction industry, in order to improve its competitiveness.
In application of this decree-law, the statutory members of the BBRI are the more than 90,000 Belgian construction companies (general contractors, carpenters, glaziers, plumbers, roofers, floorers, plasterers, painters, etc..), mostly SMEs.
According to its statutes, the BBRI has the following three main tasks:
- to perform scientific and technical research for the benefit of its members
- to supply technical information, assistance and advice to its members
- to contribute to the general innovation and development in the construction sector, more specifically by performing contractual research upon the request of the industry and the authorities.
To fulfil these tasks, the BBRI pools on the expertise of more than 200 highly skilled and motivated staff members coming from various educational backgrounds, working in multidisciplinary teams depending on the treated subject.
The sustainable development laboratory
The BBRI’s Sustainable Development Laboratory works according to the three main pillars of sustainable development: the economy, the environment and society. These themes are recurrent during the lifetime of construction works:
- Environment : the laboratory has developed a solid experience in evaluating and improving the environmental impact of building products and buildings through LCA. The laboratory also has extensive expertise in waste, recycling and circular economy
- Economics : the laboratory considers the evaluation of lifecycle costs and, in particular, maintenance and energy consumption and renovation of (existing) buildings,
- Society : the laboratory participates in various projects focusing on accessibility and innovation for the elderly and the disabled, as well as on the evolutionary housing.
In particular, the following themes are addressed and are part of the concept of life cycle:
- Sustainable buildings and contractors
The laboratory is involved in the development and implementation of various methodologies for assessing and certifying the durability of buildings (BREEAM, Ref-B, …) and supports contractors in their sustainable construction and renovation activities.
- Environmental impact of materials and buildings
The laboratory has some expertise in the use of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)) to identify and assess the environmental impact of construction and building products throughout their life cycle (materials, activities on the site, energy consumption, waste treatment, etc.).
- Accessibility and adaptability
The laboratory closely follows technical and practical building solutions to make buildings accessible and adaptable to a large group of users.
- Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Building Maintenance
The laboratory has the expertise to determine the costs incurred by buildings over a long period (lifetime).
- Demolition, waste management and recycling, urban mining, circular economy. The entire recycling chain is reviewed: techniques and processes of demolition and inventory of waste to the new methods of management and sorting of waste on site and identification of flow channels, a greater number of application possibilities for certain flows.
- Sustainable renovation
The life-cycle concept and foresight vision are the keys to sustainable renovation processes that take into account ecological, financial and practical aspects. The expertise of the laboratory is used very specifically in the development of new techniques and renewal processes (energy).
Involvement in the BBSM project
In the BBSM project, the BBRI is responsible for WP6 on the ‘technical, practical and quality aspects of flow valorisation’ and will set the framework to be able to recycle and reuse certain materials. The BBRI will also play an important role in the ‘deposit and flow’ and ‘dismantling and management of site flows’ (WP2) part, following and guiding 5 projects closely. In other tasks (state of the art, identification of channels, architecture, creation of a tool, …) its role is rather to support the other partners and to carry out specific parts of the work. In addition, BBRI plays an important role in disseminating results to the construction sector.